President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday joined many countries around the world in declaring coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, a national disaster, though no cases of the virus have yet been identified in the southern African country.
Citing cases that have been identified in the region, including South Africa, President Mnangagwa, who made the announcement at a press conference at his official State House residence in Harare, said his government was left with no choice but to declare a national disaster.
"Government has decided that the coronavirus pandemic be declared a national disaster," said Mnangagwa, adding that the declaration would enable his government to mobilize resources to respond to the pandemic.
By declaring the coronavirus a state of disaster, Mnangagwa announced that life as normal for his fellow citizens would drastically change, as his government called for restricted local and international travel, cancellations of social gatherings such as weddings and church services, and even annual national celebrations such as the upcoming Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) and the country's 40th independence celebrations, next month.
Despite having no recorded cases of the virus in the country, Mnangagwa said the threat of the virus had negatively impacted the country's economy.
"Government has postponed the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF). All national independence celebrations previously planned and pending international sporting fixtures are postponed until the threat of coronavirus recedes."
Spared from closure, however, are the country's schools which Mnangagwa announced will continue as usual until the end of the school term, in about two weeks.
Mnangagwa also called for national unity in the country to help stem the spread of the virus, which he said does not discriminate along political party or ethnic lines.
"We have to reach out to one another to fight this pandemic. It knows no political part, no ideological boundary, no color, nor creed, no nationality. We either unite in fighting it, or it forces us together in shared grief."