Zimbabwe extends level two lockdown for 14 days

A student gets her temperature taken before entering the school premises two days after the resumption of schools on September 30, 2020 in Harare, Zimbabwe,Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images

The national level two lockdown in Zimbabwe was extended for a further two weeks in an attempt to avert a possible fourth wave of infections, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced.

The extension, however, has no relaxation of any restrictions to boost the country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

FILE PHOTO: Locals queue to register details for COVID-19 vaccination exercise at Wilkins Hospital in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe. /Xinhua

“Cabinet would also like to announce the extension of the level two lockdown by an additional two weeks to enable all to heighten vaccination uptake in order to protect the nation against a possible fourth wave of the pandemic,” Mutsvangwa said.

In September, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown from Level 4 to Level 2, lifting a ban on intercity travel, and allowing businesses to operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.

The curfew which had been imposed from 6:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. was also reduced to subsist between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Mutsvangwa further noted that the number of people requiring hospitalization has reduced as has the number of infections in schools while no patients are under intensive care.

Despite warding off a devastating third wave of the pandemic and the national response appearing to bear results, she urged the public to remain vigilant.

“Government, nonetheless, continues to call upon citizens to strictly observe the national and World Health Organization COVID-19 protocols as well as to get vaccinated to prevent a fourth wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Mutsvangwa also offered a positive outlook on the vaccination campaign adding that the rapid initiative launched in October was yielding the “desired results” and will be reinforced.

More than 3.4 million people in Zimbabwe have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 2.7 million people have been double vaccinated.

Mutsvangwa also allayed fears that the country’s vaccine stock may go bad given the slow pace of uptake and the procurement of additional batches of vaccine.

“Government takes the opportunity to assure the nation that most of the country’s vaccines still have some years to go before expiration.”