Zimbabwe: Lockdown Not a Punishment - President

31 March 2020

The current 21-day lockdown is not a punishment, but an opportunity to save the lives of the people of Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa has said.

The President announced the national lockdown, which started yesterday as Government stepped up its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zimbabwe has so far confirmed seven cases of coronavirus with one death.

Addressing the nation on coronavirus at State House in Harare yesterday evening, the President said citizens should act responsibly by staying at home.

"This 21-day lockdown is not a punishment; it cannot be avoided. We have 21 days right now to save thousands of lives. And how will we save those thousands of lives? By acting responsibly, and by staying at home. By washing your hands and by keeping at least two metres distance from one another," he said.

The public, he added, must maintain the required social distance and wear protective clothing.

"Those who must work, please work responsibly, keeping your distance wherever necessary. Wear masks and gloves. Wash your hands thoroughly," said the President.

He urged people to act responsibly during the lockdown so that the Government will be able to control the spread of the pandemic.

"I want all of you to spend the next 21 days acting as if you already have the virus, as if you are a carrier.

"Would you want to infect your friends? Would you want infect your families? Would you want to infect your countrymen? Of course not. So keep your distance -- two metres away from each other. Don't touch your face. Again . . . wash your hands. Stay at home," he emphasised.

He said the 21-day lockdown was meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus

The move, the President said, was meant to tackle the pandemic before it becomes a problem of insurmountable proportions.

During the 21 days, President Mnangagwa said Government would work tirelessly to face all scenarios.

"We must make sure that our medical teams are equipped and protected and that our hospitals are prepared. That our citizens are ready," he said.

In addition, he said food supplies, food stores and medical supplies will remain open and available.

"A list of vital industries will ensure that lights remain on, and that the economy's heart continues to beat, even if it is at a much slower pace.

"If you need to leave your homes to buy food and medicines, you will be able to," he said.

President Mnangagwa said the security forces would be enforcing the lockdown with a listening ear.

"Their job is to help, to protect and to keep us all safe. But my Zimbabwean brothers and sisters, all this is in your hands. I know it is not easy," he said.

While most businesses will close, essential services and producers and retailers of essential goods will continue to be open, including food shops, pharmacies and informal food markets. Power and water supplies are given high priority.

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