Zimbabwe: Controls Hit Cross Border Traders

24 March 2020

Traffic at border posts was restricted yesterday as new rules by Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia were being formulated and border officers were awaiting instructions.

At Kariba and Chirundu, vendors have been allowed to criss-cross the border using special passes, but now Zambia, which had confirmed cases shortly before Zimbabwe, ordered a weekend closure to allow a thorough cleaning and upgrade of washing facilities.

Vendors from both countries cross the borders to sell their wares including fruits, bread, fish and groceries, among others every day

Zambia has restricted mass public gatherings including conferences and meetings until further notice while bars and night clubs have been ordered to reduce opening time to a maximum of two hours.

Failure to implement the measures will result in licences being revoked.

At Forbes Border Post outside Mutare, yesterday, Zimbabwe was still allowing traffic in and out, but Mozambican officials were limiting traffic into their country to trucks and Malawians in transit.

Other people were still barred as Mozambican officials waited for clearance.

Zimbabwe will be allowing cargo from today, but only returning residents will be able to enter the country.

Last week, Mozambican authorities prevented 10 Zimbabweans from entering the country through Machipanda Border Post as they had violated quarantine rules put in place to fight the spread of Covid-19.

Zimbabwean Ambassador to Mozambique, Ambassador Douglas Nyikayaramba confirmed the development and said: "For the previous 10 days, the group had been in South Africa, in regions with confirmed cases of Covid-19.

"That meant they should have spent 14 days in quarantine in Zimbabwe before entering Mozambique. Because they did not comply with the quarantine time, they were returned to Zimbabwe."

The 53 people in Mashonaland East under surveillance after they came into the country recently have not yet shown any symptoms of coronavirus, provincial medical director Dr Simukai Zizhou has said.

He said 34 out of 53 were in Marondera. This is contrary to messages circulate on social media that put the number at 61 people.

Dr Zizhou urged communities to follow verified news sources to avoid unnecessary panic.

He said they were going to intensify surveillance to detect any potential cases early and limit further spread.

"In Mash East, we are vulnerable mainly because of Nyamapanda Border Post, we are going to prioritise monitoring at those entry points. The setting up of an isolation camp at Nyamapanda border is at advanced stage," he said.

Dr Zizhou said the province is targeting zero positive cases and is engaging local authorities to disseminate information to communities.

Speaking at preparatory meeting for Covid-19 measures held in Marondera, the Minister of State for Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs Aplonia Munzverengwi urged the Ministry of Health and Child Care to prioritise prisoners and provide them with necessary equipment to prevent the spread of corona virus.

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