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Mnangagwa urges lockdown compliance

by Staff reporter
06 Jan 2021 at 06:51hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday urged Zimbabweans to comply with the second lockdown, imposed by Government to curb the spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, which he described as the final push against the second wave of infections. His message came as the generality of Bulawayo residents and businesses complied with the lockdown measures.

Yesterday, law enforcement agents at Bulawayo's roadblocks mounted on all roads leading to the central business district tightened screening and several people in both Zupco busses and private cars were turned away for failing to give satisfactory reasons for being in town.

The President, who is on annual leave, took time to send the message to Zimbabweans through his Twitter account, as the country embarks on a stricter lockdown to combat a spike in Covid-19 infections whose peak was recorded yesterday.

So far, the country has recorded 17 194 cases of Covid-19. Of the cases, 418 deaths and 11 813 recoveries were recorded. A record 1 365 Covid-19 cases and 34 deaths were recorded over 24 hours, the highest in the country since the outbreak of the virus.

The number of Covid-19 cases and deaths almost doubled in two months from 8 374 on November 1 to 14 084 on Saturday when the stricter lockdown was announced by Government.

Empty streets and closed shops were the order of the day in Bulawayo yesterday as most residents complied with the lockdown regulations The new lockdown measures were gazetted through Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021, Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (No. 2) (Amendment) Order, 2021 (No.9).

Under the measures, most commercial and informal sectors will be closed except hospitals, supermarkets, pharmacies among other essential service providers. Productive sectors such as mining and agriculture will also remain operational during the restrictive period.

Some of the tightened measures came into effect on Saturday and these include the banning of church services and weddings while bottle stores, bars, gymnasiums and restaurants were suspended. People not working in sectors providing essential services were directed to stay at home.

Formal and registered informal traders that have not been classified under the essential services category were directed to close for 30 days from yesterday. Other regulations that came into effect yesterday include limiting inter-city and inter-provincial travelling to essential service providers only.

"Zimbabwe is entering a second lockdown to stop the spread of a #COVID19 second wave. Please, for the sake of your family and loved ones, avoid large gatherings and non-essential travel. This is the final push let's defeat this virus for good," said President Mnangagwa on his Twitter account.

Since the outbreak and first wave of Covid-19 last year, the President Mnangagwa-led Government proactively implemented measures to reduce the spread of the virus, making Zimbabwe one of a few countries with the least number of infections and deaths.

The second wave has seen a spike in numbers in a development largely attributed to complacency by members of the public who had relaxed on prevention measures.

A news crew observed yesterday, that there were few motorists and pedestrians roaming the streets in Bulawayo's city centre as well as in selected suburbs such as Nketa, Nkulumane, Entumbane, Luveve, Gwabalanda and Magwegwe.

In Nketa, the streets were virtually empty including some popular vending sites at Sekusile in Nkulumane and Emkambo in Makokoba. Law enforcement agents could be seen patrolling the streets. Bus drivers plying routes said they spent several hours parked at ranks.

"Today there is no business and I have been here since 9AM and now it's midday and there are no people boarding. It appears people are complying with the lockdown regulations as evidenced by a sharp decline in movement," said Mr Biggies Ndlovu, a Zupco bus driver, plying the city-Nkulumane route.

Another bus driver, Mr Taurai Moyo said: "I only managed to ferry once since morning and the bus was not even full. On any normal day, I do more than four trips, but today it is different because of the lockdown."

Most of the shops including bars, restaurants and several informal trading zones in all streets were closed. Noticeably, even street vendors and long winding queues of people at supermarkets, which had become a common feature, had disappeared.

Renkini Bus Terminus in Makokoba, which is usually a hive of activity was yesterday relatively quiet with no buses and vendors in sight save for a handful of people who were just milling around. The situation was the same at Entumbane Country Bus Terminus.

The market place in the city centre which is synonymous with crowding and illegal vending activities was also empty. Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said there was compliance in the city as residents and businesses adhered to the lockdown regulations.

"The only challenge is the banking system is centralised because we don't have banking halls in places like Nkulumane and Entumbane shopping malls, which is why people are coming into town. Businesses and shops which were directed to close complied and we hope with time people will fully comply with stay-at-home lockdown measures," he said.

"Generally, compliance in Bulawayo is satisfactory and we have mounted roadblocks on all major roads leading to the city centre and people are being checked and screened."

Addressing the media on Sunday, Acting President Kembo Mohadi said going outdoors should be viewed as a life-or-death decision due to the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases as he called for immediate behaviour change.

Acting President Mohadi said he was concerned about complacency that has crept in as evidenced by the people's behaviour.

Announcing the tightened lockdown last Saturday, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child care, said existing Covid-19 preventive health measures should be strictly enforced.

Source - chroncile