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Beitbridge to remain open, says Zimra

by Staff reporter
03 Dec 2020 at 07:02hrs | Views
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority insists it will continue to provide essential services to travellers at Beitbridge Border Post despite eight Covid-19 cases being reported at the port of entry.

Zimbabwe's gateway to South Africa was finally opened last week after eight months of closure due to the global pandemic. However, after only operating for one day, the port had already recorded positive cases.

Zimra has streamlined its operations at Beitbridge Border Post after eight of its employees tested positive for Covid-19 as cases continue to rise in the country.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the country recorded 95 new cases in the last 24-hour cycle bringing to 10 129 that total number of confirmed cases.

All the 95 cases are local transmissions with Bulawayo recording the highest number of 55 cases followed by the Mashonaland East which had 23 new cases.

Midlands Province recorded six new cases while Harare had five cases.

Mashonaland Central recorded three new cases while Masvingo and Mashonaland West recorded two cases and one case respectively. However, no death was reported in the last 24 hours. The rise in cases has left the seven-day rolling average for new cases at 104.

The spate of new cases recorded in the last seven days has left active cases at 1 209, 8 643 recoveries and 277 deaths.

As a mitigating measure against the spread of Covid-19 virus, Zimra is urging its clients to access and utilise its available e-service facilities to reduce the risks associated with travelling or handling physical documents.

The tests are part of strict and tight health management measures the Government employed to ensure the safety of travellers and its workers under the new border set up. Everyone leaving or entering the country through Beitbridge is being thoroughly screened at the entrance of the border arena and all buildings.

Beitbridge, Plumtree, Forbes, Chirundu, and Victoria Falls land borders reopened to passenger traffic on Tuesday morning.

As a precautionary measure, towards the reopening, the Ministry of Health and Child Care tested all border workers to ascertain the exact number of those fit for duty.

In a statement yesterday, Zimra spokesperson Mr Francis Chimanda said they were taking the necessary precautionary steps, as guided by World Health Organisation (WHO) with the assistance of the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure the safety of their workers and travelling public.

"The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, which continues to provide essential services, is taking the necessary precautionary steps, as guided by World Health Organisation the assistance of the Ministry of Health and Child Care, following the recording of eight cases of Covid-19 at our Beitbridge Border Post," he said.

"Zimra is very aware that due to the unique location of our offices and stations coupled with the essential nature of the services we provide there is a need to remain vigilant in observing and practising procedures that reduce exposure to Covid-19."

In order to safeguard employees, clients, and the public, Mr Chimanda said Zimra continues to implement guidelines from WHO and the Ministry of Health and Child Care in reducing the impact of the Covid-19 threat to operations and human life. He said all stakeholders at Beitbridge have had tests done as well as contact tracing and staff continue to offer essential services under Covid-19 protocols.

Some of the steps taken include; testing contacts of all suspected Covid-19 cases and the immediate closure of some offices for disinfection.

"The reopening of disinfected offices will be done with the assistance and guidance of the relevant local medical authorities. Where practical, Zimra stations and offices maintain critical skeleton staff. In addition, staff are being provided with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and sanitisers; and services are, as much as possible, being offered to clients/agents via electronic means" said Mr Chimanda.

He said Zimra was encouraging travellers to use clearance methods of goods which minimise human interface between its employees and clients. In addition, all travellers importing dutiable goods must pre-clear and pre-pay before arriving at the border to reduce crowding and the time spent at border posts.

"As a mitigating measure against the spread of Covid-19 virus, clients are encouraged to access, utilise the available Zimra e-service facilities on or and reduce the risks associated with travelling or handling physical documents," he said.

"Zimra encourages everyone to put their health and safety first at all times while remembering that responsible behaviour at an individual level will help safeguard us all. Our prayers are with the infected and we wish them a speedy recovery."

Zimra also urged travellers to prioritise public health at all ports of entry. Government continues to implore citizens to observe guidelines aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19, which include wearing of face masks in public, maintaining social distance, washing hands with soap or ash and sanitising, among others.

Source - dailynews