from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – ZIMBABWE is closely monitoring thousands of its citizens that travelled back home from neighbouring South Africa as the two countries embark on lockdowns to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
South Africa has the most cases of the deadly virus and it is feared some Zimbabweans there could have been exposed to the virus and might spread it in their home country.
Dr Obadiah Moyo, the Zimbabwe Health Minister, said his ministry, with the help of Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and district administrators (DAs), would ensure all Zimbabweans living in South Africa currently in the country would be on their radar system for thorough monitoring.
“We were advised initially that there was a group of 550 nationals who came from South Africa through Beitbridge border and recommended that the group be put under self-quarantine at controllable venues,” Moyo said.
He said the second group had 4 000 people from South Africa, followed by another group of 9 000 who also came through Beitbridge Border Post.
“We want to make sure that they are not the ones who will cause problems for us during the current lockdown. The people in question must remain at their residences and not move away from those addresses,” Moyo said.
He appealed to those nationals working and living in neighbouring South Africa to maintain discipline and comply with government directives.
Zimbabwe on Monday embarked on a 21-day lockdown against COVID-19.
It has confirmed five cases and one death.
Meanwhile, a majority of Zimbabwean people living in towns and cities have retreated to rural areas to limit their exposure to the virus.
The main cities such as the capital Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo, Kwekwe, Chinhoyi, Bindura, Marondera and Gwanda have been deserted during the lockdown.
Nick Mangwana, the Minister of Information and Publicity, said the government had also intensified dissemination of information about COVID-19 to rural communities to ensure majority people were not infected and spreading the pandemic.
He said among other key issues aimed at disseminating right information to discourage huge gatherings were meetings this week with various provincial ministers, provincial administrators and district administrators to ensure they communicated correct messages to villagers.
“Recognising that not every Zimbabwean is on social media, has access to television or radio, the inter-ministerial taskforce on Covid-19 sent cabinet ministers to every province to meet Ministers’ of State for Provincial Affairs (premiers),” said Mangwana
A 11-member inter-ministerial ad hoc taskforce, headed by Dr Moyo, will monitor the outbreak and manage responses to the pandemic.
Declaring the lockdown, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said: “This means all our citizens are required to stay at home, except of course in respect of essential movements related to seeking health services; to purchase and procurement of food and medicines and for the essential supplies and critical services.
– CAJ News