By Leopold Munhende
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has decreed a 21-day Coronavirus national lockdown starting Monday 29 March 2020 in a cocktail of measures he announced Friday to present the further spread of the world pandemic.
He was speaking at the State House in Harare.
“Starting Monday 30 March, 2020, and subject to further review, Zimbabwe will be under a total lockdown for a period of 21 days,” he told journalists from the State media.
“This means all our citizens are required to stay at home, except of course in respect of essential movements related to seeking health services; to the purchase and procurement of food and medicines, and for other essential supplies and critical services.
“To ensure strict compliance, I have directed the National Command Element of our Security Arms to deploy as appropriate in support of civilian authority.
“Until further notice, all public transport operations will stand suspended. Only ZUPCO and Public Service Commission buses will be exempt from this directive.”
Mnangagwa said the government was working on setting up separate treatment and isolation facilities to ensure general hospitals do not get overwhelmed by people seeking treatment from the killer bug.
The Ministry of Local Government has also been directed to ensure availability of water in all residential areas while councils have been told to religiously collect refuse and guarantee sewer reticulation services.
Other measures announced include shutting down of public markets which employ millions across the country except those that sell foodstuffs.
“Should it become necessary, security forces may be deployed to assist in the enforcement of these and other measures, and maintenance of order at these markets,” added Mnangagwa.
He said funerals will go on but were going to be limited to a maximum of 50 mourners while hospital visits are now restricted to a single person per day.
Mnangagwa also announced that the government was working on legal measures to punish those that are purported to be sharing false information that could cause alarm and despondency via social media as well as other platforms.
He also reiterated his call to punish companies and individuals who take advantage of the crisis and make profits.
“Some of the measures will be very abrupt and are sure to upset our daily routines but they have to be taken,” said the President.