by NORMA TSOPO
PRESIDENT Emerson Mnangagwa has announced a 14-day extension to the Covid-19 lockdown which was set expire Sunday at midnight albeit with relaxed restrictions.
The lockdown is now set to end on May 3 in the absence of a further extension.
Government’s decision to relax conditions which will see mining and manufacturing industries being allowed to resume operations was is aimed at improving the country’s ailing economic performance.
Zimbabwe could not lift the lockdown as it is yet to meet the World Health Organisation (Who) conditions for suspending the restraints on people’s movements.
The review came as the southern African country’s Covid-19 cases have risen to 25 including three deaths and two recoveries.
He cautioned that the numbers could keep growing but his administration was hoping to keep the numbers down to ensure that it does not overwhelm the health care system through rigorous testing, early treatment and contact tracing.
President Mnangagwa said the country’s heath care system was being re-purposed and equipped to deal with the pandemic which has now afflicted over 2 million people.
Announcing the exemption of the mining sector from the lockdown, the President said operations will only resume in line with prescribed Who guidelines.
Mine workers are set to be screened, tested and reside within the premises of their workplace during lockdown.
Manufacturing sector is to resume with health inspectors visiting to monitor operations.
Employers are to ensure their employees have the required personal protective equipment and awareness is raised at the workplace.
Tobacco auction floors – a major source of foreign currency will be allowed to open as the marketing season is now due but sales will be decentralised to promote social distancing which reduces the risk of spread of the virus.
Essential services will continue operations as before operating within designated times and parameters with movement of the general citizenry still limited to important engagement with security personnel expected to increase their vetting of travellers.