By Lynette Manzini
Government has scaled up the response to contain the outbreak of Corona virus (COV-D19) in the country by banning large gatherings of more than one hundred people, at a time the country has not recorded a single positive case.
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new virus that had not been previously identified in humans.The virus causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever and in more severe cases, pneumonia.
The first COVID-19 case was recorded in China in November 2019, two weeks before the Chinese government announced the emergence of the new virus.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the ban during a press conference on Tuesday when 147 cases had been confirmed in 15 African countries with neighboring South Africa having 62 cases.
“ Gathering of more than 100 people including those for the purposes of worship and weddings stand suspended for the next 60 days after which suspension will be reviewed” Mnangagwa said.
Zimbabwe’s health sector expected to tackle the screening, testing and manage the spread of infections-has been crippled by a shortage of medicine as well as on and off strikes by doctors and other health workers over wages and working conditions.
The government decisions to ban large gatherings is similar to the position taken by neighboring South Africa last Sunday.South Africa and Zimbabwe have kept the shared Beitbridge border post open for business and travellers.
Despite banning the large gatherings the government has not copied a leaf in neighbouring South Africa’s book to also close schools to curtail the outbreak.
“Schools are going to close in two weeks and we shall allow them to run the term unless something drastic happens”, he said.
In addition to banning gatherings the government has postponed the annually held Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo, international soccer fixtures, Independence Day celebrations and had discouraged non essential travelling until the threat of the virus diminishes.
However, travellers from high risk countries have been discouraged from travelling to Zimbabwe for the next thirty days beginning 20 March 2020.
African countries like South Africa have issued travel bans to countries that include Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the US, the UK and China to limit transmission of corona virus.
The World Health Organisation reports 153 517 confirmed cases and
5735 deaths world wide.