Zimbabwe goes through worst patch as number of COVID-19 infections rise

2021-01-06 13:35:30 GMT2021-01-06 21:35:30(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

HARARE, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is going through its worst patch during the COVID-19 pandemic so far and recorded its highest number of infections and deaths in a single day, while a national lockdown starting Tuesday saw some people carrying on with banned businesses.

The country recorded 1,365 new infections and 34 deaths amid indications that health facilities are overwhelmed.

Several people have come out on social media looking for health facilities with available beds and ventilators for their loved ones and offering to pay the required charges.

Harare Province had the highest number of new cases at 777, followed by Bulawayo with 110 and Masvingo with 93 as all the country's 10 provinces recorded new infections.

The new cases - all local infections - were recorded as the country entered its first day of a Level 4 lockdown which restricts business operations to essential services only, while land borders have been closed for exit.

The new lockdown restrictions include the closure of restaurants, schools, churches, gymnasiums, and bars.

Only essential services such as hospitals, pharmacies, and supermarkets and key commercial services such as mining, manufacturing, and agriculture are permitted to operate, while the rest of formal and informal businesses are suspended.

Concern has been raised over the continuation of school public examinations which started Tuesday as parents fear that their children may be infected.

Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana lamented the high rate of deaths and urged citizens to continue wearing face masks.

Said Mangwana on Twitter: "Our deaths have gone into two dozens in a day. It's too much!"

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is on leave, said it was necessary for the government to impose the latest strict lockdown to curb the spread of a COVID-19 second wave.

"Zimbabwe is entering a second lockdown to stop the spread of a COVID-19 second wave. Please, for the sake of your family and loved ones, avoid large gatherings and non-essential travel.

"This is the final push - let's defeat this virus for good," he said on Twitter Wednesday.

The government has also suspended face-to-face meetings in the public service to ensure the safety of its employees and trimmed its workforce to 30 percent.

Only the essential service workforce will be allowed to be physically at work across all ministries and government departments.

"Face-to-face meetings have been suspended. Meanwhile, strict Covid-19 protocols on PSC buses will be enforced. Knock-off time for government employees shall be 3 pm," he said. Enditem