By Bulawayo Correspondent
REPORTS of new stringent Covid-19 lockdown restrictions have triggered panic buying for basic commodities in Bulawayo, a city now listed as an epicentre of the deadly pandemic.
As of Friday, the city had recorded three deaths and 231 new Covid-19 cases bringing the total number of cases in the metropolitan to 419.
This week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa indicated his administration was looking at taking appropriate measures to stop the spread of the novel virus in hot spots that include the capital and Bulawayo.
“With the surge in the Covid-19 cases, I am likely to impose further restrictions and measures. We think that we are not yet out of the woods. Those who do projections say to us that this is just the beginning. We are yet to see the worst,” Mnangagwa said early this week.
“I relaxed some of the measures recommended by the World Health Organisation, but now with the surge that is coming around, I am likely to impose further restrictions and measures,” he added.
His warning has seen Bulawayo residents forming long and winding queues at most food selling shops and wholesalers in the city as they stockpile essentials ahead of the anticipated lockdown.
“The President has hinted that there will a lockdown following the spiral cases of Covid-19. I do not want to be caught unaware like what happened last time when Mnangagwa first announced measures,” a consumer told NewZimbabwe.com while queuing at a local supermarket in Bulawayo’s central business district.
“I do not have much cash to spare but I am only buying basic commodities such as mealie- meal and cooking oil,” he said.
Another consumer, Nancy Moyo said she used to buy her groceries from South Africa but following the Covid-19 outbreak, she is forced to buy in local shops where goods are expensive.
“I have just bought a few items for my family in preparation for the lockdown, which government officials have already hinted to. We hear that the latest lockdown will be confined to the epicentres of the pandemic which are Bulawayo and Harare. Already soldiers and police officers are turning away people from entering into town,” she added.
Some retailers and fresh produce sellers are reportedly taking advantage of the impending lockdown and have hiked the prices for their commodities.
“I bought a 2kg packet of sugar for $230 on Monday but the same product is now selling for $340 today (Friday). The price of mealie-meal has also gone up from US$ 4 to between US$5 and US$6,” said another consumer.