The Government of Zimbabwe says it will deport visitors to the country from coronavirus affected regions who do not have valid medical certificates showing they tested negative for the disease which has so far killed at least 3 000 people globally.
Government says the measures were part of a stringent regime adopted by Cabinet as the country intensified efforts to protect its citizens.
Health and Child Care minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said such visitors would be sent back immediately at ports of entry.
“Those who come without medical certificates showing that they were examined by government doctors from their countries of origin, we will simply say ‘thank you for the visit, but we are sending you back,” Moyo said.
“We are doing this to ensure that we don’t have people who bring coronavirus into our country. We will take all stringent measures to ensure that we don’t have coronavirus in Zimbabwe.”
On Tuesday, the World Health Organisation said the global death toll from the disease first reported in China had breached the 3 000 mark.
“There is now a total of 90 893 reported cases of COVID-19 globally, and 3 110 deaths, but in the past 24 hours, China has reported 129 cases, the lowest number of cases since Thursday,” WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“Outside China, 1 848 cases were reported in 48 countries. Eighty percent of those cases are from just three countries: the Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Italy.”
He said 12 new countries had reported their first cases and there were now 21 countries with one case, while 122 countries had not reported any cases.
“The actions these newly-affected countries take today will be the difference between a handful of cases and a larger cluster,” Ghebreyesus said.
“We understand that people are afraid and uncertain. Fear is a natural human response to any threat, especially when it’s a threat we don’t completely understand. But as we get more data, we are understanding this virus, and the disease it causes, more and more.”
He said some countries were looking for cases of COVID-19 using surveillance systems for influenza and other respiratory diseases.
“Countries such as China, Ghana, Singapore and elsewhere have found very few cases of COVID-19 among such samples – or no cases at all,” said Ghebreyesus.
“The only way to be sure is by looking for COVID-19 antibodies in large numbers of people, and several countries are now doing those studies. This will give us further insight into the extent of infection in populations over time.”