Zimbabwe to go on total lockdown from Monday to combat coronavirus

Published Mar 27, 2020


Harare - Zimbabwe will impose a

nationwide lockdown for 21 days from Monday to help curb the

spread of the coronavirus, and security forces may be deployed

to enforce it, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Friday.

The decision is seen as hurting an economy already struggling

with a drought, shortages of foreign exchange and a staggering

unemployment rate of over 90%, forcing people to survive on

informal trade.

Mnangagwa said in a live broadcast that only state and

health workers on duty will be exempted from the lockdown, while

funeral gatherings should not involve more than 50 people.

"Some of the measures will be drastic and are sure to upset

the daily routines of our lives. Should it become necessary,

security forces will be deployed to assist in the enforcement of

these measures," Mnangagwa said.

Nelson Chamisa, the main opposition leader and usually a

strident critic of Mnangagwa and his government, said he

supported the government's decision as Zimbabwe was "in

circumstances of a catastrophe."

"Politics aside, we must unite to save lives," Chamisa wrote

on Twitter.

%%%twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZimLOC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ZimLOC

— nelson chamisa (@nelsonchamisa)

Zimbabwe has reported five confirmed coronavirus cases and

one death, although the opposition and other critics accuse the

government of understating the figures and of dragging its feet

in taking necessary action to halt the spread of the disease.

The 76-year-old president said the government was still

looking at ways to support the economy to avert two successive

years of recession, after a 6% contraction last year.

Most Zimbabweans eke out a living hawking goods on the

street, and a shutdown will leave many without an income or

food, analysts say.

A young girl walks past a shopping stall in Harare, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's public hospital doctors went on strike over what they called a lack of adequate protective gear as the coronavirus begins to spread in a country whose health system has almost collapsed. Picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Last week Mnangagwa announced measures to curb the movement

of people, but it has largely been business as usual in Zimbabwe

so far, with informal markets and businesses remaining open and

public transport continuing to operate.

A health worker screens and sanitises visitors to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outside a hospital in Harare. Picture: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

Earlier, a Zimbabwean billionaire offered health workers new

support, including life insurance and cash, after nurses and

some doctors walked out over a lack of protective clothing for

treating people suffering from the coronavirus. 


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