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Vice President Chiwenga Says Kwekwe Under 2-Week COVID-19 Lockdown

FILE: Police and soldiers patrol the streets during a nationwide lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Harare, Zimbabwe, April 19, 2020.

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe's vice president has announced the government is imposing a two-week lockdown on the central city of Kwekwe because the COVID-19 variant dominant in India has been detected there.

Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the country's health minister, issued a statement Friday saying activities in Kwekwe, a city of more than 100,000, will be restricted for two weeks starting Friday.

Bars and beer taverns have been closed and there is a night curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. The lockdown also bans public gatherings such as weddings and health officials will supervise all funerals.

Businesses will only be allowed to operate from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., according to Chiwenga's statement, which was distributed by the ministry of information.

"Travelers through Kwekwe are strongly being advised to spend as little time as possible during the two weeks,” said Chiwenga in the statement.

Zimbabwe has generally eased restrictions nationwide after the rate of infections started slowing after a devastating resurgence in December and January.

The southern African country of 15 million people has recorded 38,635 confirmed cases, including 1,585 deaths, according to health ministry figures.

The country has vaccinated 615,296 people with a first dose of vaccines, mainly the Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, while 252,100 had received a second dose, according to official figures.