ZIMBABWE’S current Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown is due to end Monday, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa expected to announce whether there will be an extension or relaxation of restrictions.
The country experienced increased infections and deaths in January and early February following the festive season when there was a lot of traveling, but these have since declined as the government enforced the stringent lockdown restrictions.
For the first time since the beginning of the year, there were no deaths recorded during the 24-hour reporting period for Saturday, while only 14 new cases were confirmed.
The decline has brought hope that the country has managed, to a great extent, to control the spread of Covid-19, although some people remain cautious, saying that the level of testing remains low and fear that a third wave of the pandemic could still hit the country.
To date, the country has recorded 1,463 deaths from 36,054 cases, with 2,005 being active.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba told The Sunday Mail that Mnangagwa would update the nation on new measures before the expiry of the current lockdown.
Business leaders also told the paper that they were optimistic that the president’s address would come with eased lockdown measures to allow some operations to resume.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries President Henry Ruzvidzo said the current lockdown has resulted in market and supply chain disruptions for businesses.
“The rates of infection are indeed down and can be attributed to the swift action taken January. Our expectation is that we learn from the experience of the past few months on the major sources of risk and take measured responses going forward,” said Ruzvidzo.
“It is important to ensure that the economy can rebound recognizing the country’s limited capacity to bail out businesses. We expect more businesses to be allowed to resume operations,” he said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association President Denford Mutashu said there was a need to strike a critical balance.
“We need to up the tempo in the national vaccination exercise in our ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we need to strike a critical balance by ensuring we double efforts on intra-trade and open up the economy further. Borders must remain closed until at least 50 percent of the population is vaccinated,” he said.
Zimbabwe has launched its Covid-19 vaccination program after taking delivery of the first batch of vaccines from China.
Frontline workers, including journalists, are being prioritized for inoculation under the first phase of the vaccination program. Vaccination is being done on a voluntary basis and in three phases.