On Sunday, April 19, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that the nationwide lockdown, initially implemented on Friday, March 27, will be in effect across Zimbabwe until Sunday, May 3, to curb the spread of the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. State and health workers are exempt from the lockdown.
Security personnel have been deployed across the country to ensure the public comply with the lockdown measures. Further reports indicate security forces have forcibly dispersed those violating terms.
Under the lockdown measures, citizens are expected to stay at home, except for going to seek health services, buy food and medicines, and receive other essential services. State and health workers are exempt from the lockdown. All public transportation services, except Zupco, are suspended; mass transportation operations are also suspended, except for employees in essential services.
On Monday, March 23, the country closed its borders to foreign nationals and authorities banned gatherings of more than 50 people.
As of April 19, 25 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Zimbabwe, including 3 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.