Mukudzei Chingwere Herald Reporter
Returning residents without valid PCR negative Covid-19 test certificates will undergo mandatory quarantine while visitors without the certificates will be denied entry as Zimbabwe enforces public health controls to minimise risks of spreading Covid-19 infections.
Those leaving Zimbabwe must also have such certificates.
Zimbabwe and South Africa, which have similar health rules, are working together to smoothen operations at Beitbridge Border Post to handle huge numbers of travellers this festive holiday, largely by having checks done before people arrive to clog the approaches to the border.
The Ad Hoc Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19 yesterday urged Zimbabweans not to loosen their guard after a new variant of the virus was detected in South Africa, with Zimbabweans being implored to forgo traditional Christmas festivities to stop infection rates rising.
Taskforce member and Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa, announced the enforcement of travel measures and warned of higher risks yesterday.
“All persons traveling in or out or transiting through Zimbabwe should possess a valid PCR negative Covid-19 certificate from certified local and international laboratories. In this regard, any returnee without the required PCR certificate will be put under mandatory quarantine.
“All foreigners who do not present valid PCR negative Covid-19 certificates will be denied entry into the country, and all persons who wish to travel outside the country should not present themselves at ports of entry and exit without the requisite PCR certificates,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She said decongestion measures at the ports wre being implemented, including setting up of check points prior to arrival at the border posts. Law enforcement agents had been deployed to enforce adherence.
Minister Mutsvangwa confirmed that meetings were being held between Zimbabwe and South Africa to address the congestion at Beitbridge.
Minister Mutsvangwa thanked Zimbabweans for standing with their Government and supporting efforts put in place to curb the pandemic.
“My fellow Zimbabweans, we have come so far and despite our losses. We have continued to be resilient. Let us keep up our fighting spirit, as this is the only way we can win the war against Covid-19.”
She acknowledged festive holidays were associated with merrymaking but reminded the nation of the new normal where large gatherings are banned.
“The threat posed by Covid-19 has not receded but has increased as there is a new strain of the virus. Now more than ever, we need to practice protective and preventive measures such as wearing our masks in public spaces, washing or sanitizing our hands and physical distancing,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“High level meetings have been held between Zimbabwe and South Africa, as part of efforts to address challenges and ensure the smooth flow of traffic at Beitbridge Border Post,” she said.
Speaking at the same briefing Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Kazembe Kazembe said his ministry was collaborating with their South African counterparts in this regard.
Vice chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19, Professor Amon Murwira, talked of the new variant that has been detected in other countries, emphasising the importance of not loosening guard.
“We are in a new normal. What it means is that we know there is Covid-19, and there is a new variant which is being reported internationally. We cannot lose our guard. While we enjoy our Christmas we want to enjoy it alive by observing all the measures that have been put in place,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro explained the nature of viruses which he said tend to mutate. His emphasis was to avoid unnecessary travel and implored total adherence to containment measures.
“Viruses continuously mutate. Let’s keep safe, and the best treatment is prevention and we are all aware of the several measures, sanitisation, social distancing, wearing of face masks and not travel unnecessarily, let’s stay home let’s stay safe.”