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Coronavirus: As Lockdown Begins in Zimbabwe

The new coronavirus has wreaked havoc across the world, forcing an increasing number of countries to shut the borders and impose sweeping measures in a bid to stop the spread of the disease.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced during a press briefing, that his government has postponed independence day celebrations and discouraged locals from travelling to all affected countries, even though the country has no detected cases so far of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Harare on 17 March 2020. (Photo: Jekesai Njikizana / AFP)

Evidence has shown that the lockdown has helped containment efforts in China. But what is the hope of for Zimbabwean’s who are already facing economic and climate challenges before the arrival of the new disease.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe announced on Friday that the Southern African nation would go into lockdown to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus.

All essential services and businesses was closed on Monday. Although, food markets remain open, but were supervised by public health officers throughout the country.

While, the state and health workers will be exempted from the lockdown. Maximum of two people was allowed in a private car during the coronavirus lockdown in the Southern Africa country.

Hoarding food items and other basic essentials now attract criminal prosecution in Zimbabwe. Only 50 mourners or less are allowed to attend special dispensation funerals during Zimbabwe’s lockdown.

Earlier in this month, courts solemnising civil marriages are limiting attendance to just the couple and two witnesses. Churches have agreed to limit services and numbers attending.

While, the Zimbabwean government has ordered that no gathering should exceed 100 people and asked people not to visit relatives in prison.

The government ordered that no gathering should exceed 100 people and asked people not to visit relatives in prison.

Convid-19 Preparedness

A coronavirus awareness billboard at a highway in Harare (Aaron Ufumeli/EPA)

Despite a struggling health care sector, cities and municipalities in the country are busy upgrading public communications and setting up or upgrading isolation facilities.

Masvingo City Council has already offered Rujeko Clinic to be used as the provincial isolation centre.

Zimbabwe’s Health Minister Obediah Moyo (left) speaking to officials at a hospital in Harare, which is being used as facility to treat patients who would have been suspected of contracting COVID-19, March 02, 2020. (Columbus Mavhunga/VOA)

Beitbridge’s responsive and preparedness plan is also in full swing with the local authority making use of posters and hailers to reach out to people in the town.

Health worker screens and sanitises visitors to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outside a hospital in Harare. (Reuters/PHILIMON BULAWAYOA)

Similarly, authorities in Zimbabwe has since set up a temporary quarantine centre at the Reception and Support Centre to handle all suspected cases pending transportation to the Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Centre in Bulawayo.

In Kadoma, the city council has moved to establish a Covid-19 isolation unit within Kadoma General Hospital and set up model doctor’s consultation rooms for Covid-19 with Hertzman surgery as the city moves to complement national preparedness against coronavirus.

Hardship before Convid-19

People queue to shop in Harare ahead of a nationwide lockdown to limit the spread of coronavirus (Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

Already, millions of Zimbabweans already struggling with a deepening economic crisis bringing soaring food prices, stagnant salaries, water shortages and daily power blackouts.

A young boy sits in a queue for cooking gas in Harare after President Mnangagwa announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/The Associated Press)

Frequent and thorough hand-washing with soap and water is one of the most basic weapons against the coronavirus, but the majority of Zimbabweans in both rural and urban areas has no access to running water.

The government has legalized the use of foreign currencies in domestic transactions on Sunday, less than a year after abandoning dollarisation, as the country readies for a 21-day lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Southern African countries like Lesotho and South Africa have also instituted lockdowns to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

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