GOVERNMENT is monitoring the situation on the ground before reopening of the country’s borders for human traffic in two weeks as saving lives remains top of its agenda in view of Covid-19 threats, Vice-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga has said.
Government set December 1 for the reopening of the country’s borders for members of the public travelling in private cars and pedestrians.
The country’s borders were closed at the end of March for human traffic as Government implemented measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The borders remained opened for cargo as Government balanced between saving lives and running the economy. While the country is working towards opening borders, Matabeleland region has started recording a rise in Covid-19 cases, some of them imported.
South Africa is also recording a rise in Covid-19 cases and authorities have warned of a second wave of infections.
Developments in South Africa usually have a huge bearing on the situation in Zimbabwe especially noting that most of the country’s initial Covid-19 cases were imported from across the Limpopo.
In the past week, the country recorded 53 Covid-19 cases that were imported from South Africa.
Globally Covid-19 cases are on the increase with America and some European countries already grappling with the second wave of the Covid-19 infections.
European countries such as Britain and France have again imposed national lockdowns to contain the second wave of Covid-19 infections. With rising Covid-19 cases locally, Bulawayo is likely to go into another lockdown as authorities are assessing the pandemic’s hotspot areas before coming up with a decision.
In view of the threat posed by the second wave of infections and planned reopening of borders, Dr Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care said Government was monitoring the Covid-19 situation.
He was responding to questions from journalists in Bulawayo on Friday during the launch of Covid-19 cycling campaign in Makokoba suburb. He was asked if it will be safe to reopen borders in view of rising Covid-19 cases.
He said President Mnangagwa, guided by experts will make a pronouncement to ensure public health is prioritised when borders reopen.
“We will be monitoring and we will be looking at the issue (rising Covid-19). One thing that you must be aware of is that even when we locked down and closed the borders, we never closed them for commerce. There was transportation but it was only for economies to run. We will be looking at that (opening of borders) very carefully and the public would be advised.
“His Excellency, as he is in charge, after having been given the correct briefings, will be taking appropriate measures as is necessary to save lives of people of Zimbabwe,” said Dr Chiwenga.
The Vice-President warned of a possibility of a second wave of Covid-19 infections in the country as most citizens are no longer adhering to prevention and mitigation measures.
He said ignorance, denial and wishful thinking could be the downfall for some citizens.
Government is set to announce how borders will operate but Cabinet last Tuesday outlined Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to guide those travelling using the Beitbridge Border Post using repatriation buses.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said buses repatriating Zimbabweans from South Africa should present Covid-19 clearance certificates obtained within 48 hours before travelling.
“All bus operators involved in the repatriation of Zimbabwean nationals from South Africa are required to obtain clearance from the respective Zimbabwean Consulate in Cape Town and Johannesburg two days before departure.
“The bus operators should provide full names of all passengers; passport or temporary travel document numbers of the passengers; vehicle and trailer registration details; final destination in Zimbabwe and the identification details of the drivers,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“Both passengers and bus crews should have Covid-19 negative certificates from a registered laboratory and obtained within 48 hours from departure. Bus operators must ensure that passengers have requisite travel documents before purchasing tickets.”