President Mnangagwa has banned civil servants from foreign trips and urged other Zimbabweans to restrict their travelling, especially outside Africa, as part of measures to minimise the risk of being exposed to Covid-19.
Addressing the 337th Ordinary Session of the Zanu-PF Politburo in Harare yesterday, the President said the Ministry of Health and Child Care, together with associated departments, was adequately prepared to handle any possible cases of Covid-19, but the Government wanted to minimise the risk of such cases in the first place, hence the travel ban for civil servants.
“We will continue to urge our people to minimise the risk of exposure. For those in Government, I have banned foreign travelling. I also appeal to Zimbabweans to minimise travelling outside the country,” he said.
President Mnangagwa’s sentiments come at a time when Zimbabwe has announced that people visiting the country from areas affected by Covid-19 without valid medical certificates showing they are not infected, will be sent back at the port of entry.
But Zimbabweans cannot be refused entry to their own country.
Those returning residents who have visited the epicentre of the pandemic are automatically quarantined and tested.
Over 3 000 people around the world have died from Covid-19 following the first outbreak recorded in the Chinese City of Wuhan in Hubei Province from the more than 93 000 cases recorded.
The overwhelming majority of cases and deaths have been in China, but deaths have been reported in Iran, Italy and the United States, and authorities are considering new quarantine zones and travel restrictions.
Africa has recorded just three confirmed cases, one each in Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria, but authorities across the continent are taking precautions with assistance from the World Health Organisation.
In Zimbabwe, over 6 000 people have been screened for infection at ports of entry, mainly Robert Gabriel Mugabe International and Victoria Falls International airports and the Beitbridge Border Post.
Both persons, who arrived after visiting Wuhan, were immediately quarantined and tested, with both being released after the tests came out negative although both are among the group being continuously monitored for 21 days.
The two were detained at Wilkins Hospital where they were observed and discharged.
All Government emergency agencies, including the Department of Civil Protection, have been directed to be prepared for any Covid-19 outbreak.
Yesterday, Ecobank donated US$$30 000 to Ministry of Health and Childcare for the procurement of coronavirus testing kits as part of the national preparedness efforts.
The kits will be used at all ports of entry including airports and border posts where screening of the potentially infected is taking place to prevent the disease from spreading into the country.
In a statement, Ecobank director Mr Moses Kurenjekwa said the bank was alive to the potential business and human threat posed by Covid-19 globally.
“It is our hope that we can come together as a nation and deal collectively with this serious threat to social and economic progress. The continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries over the last few days are clearly of concern to all,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe assured parents with children studying in that country of their safety.
Over 2 000 Zimbabwean students are studying in China. But China has won praise from international health agencies for the effective measures it is taking.
The problem with a new disease with an incubation period of up to 21 days is that a lot of people can be infected before the outbreak is recognised.