PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday extended the Covid-19 level two national lockdown by a further two weeks, citing the a rapid rise in infections driven by the new Omicron variant, and moderately tightening the lockdown by scaling down Government activities, enforcing masks for all private and public commuters and asking businesses to implement earlier festive season shutdowns than usual.
The President said over the last two weeks, Zimbabwe had seen a 472 percent surge in new Covid-19 cases, with 28 904 of those being recorded last week alone, compared to the 5 055 cases the week before.
“The last genomic sequencing has linked all the cases to the highly transmissible new Omicron variant.
Though the majority of the positive cases have mild disease, the numbers are very high, and the proportion of the moderate to severe disease is likely to overwhelm our case management capacity, given our acute depletion of specialised human resources in our health institutions,” he said.
As a result, the President said the Government extended the current lockdown for a further two weeks, with extra measures put in place: scaling down all Government activities to 30 percent, except for essential services; commuters to wear face masks in both public and private transport settings, coupled with strict law enforcement of this critical public health measure; hotels and lodges to provide room services to their clients, as opposed to gathering in restaurants and bars without face masks; businesses that are subject to annual shutdown were encouraged to close early for the festive season, at least by Unity Day on December 22.
The President said those eligible for Covid-19 vaccination, including the booster shot, should be vaccinated and encouraged the public to continue adhering to all the recommended public health preventive measures, such as wearing face masks properly, avoiding closed spaces, avoiding crowded gatherings, washing of hands with soap and running water, sanitizing and social distancing.
These measures are subject to review after two weeks.