Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced on Monday, March 23, that the country will close its borders to foreign nationals effective immediately, after the first death due to coronavirus (COVID-19) was confirmed in the country. Zimbabwean citizens and residents are therefore exempt to the policy. All non-essential traffic and travel, both inbound and outbound will be banned though cargo transportation will be allowed.
Additionally, authorities banned gatherings of more than 50 people and encouraged residents to avoid in-country travel.
According to health officials, a Zimbabwean national who arrived in the country from New York, transiting through South Africa was tested positive for the virus on March 21. The individual was isolated in Harare where he passed away on March 23.
As of Tuesday, March 24, there are two confirmed COVID-19 cases and one confirmed death nationwide. Further spread of the virus expected.
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, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.