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Zimbabwe Tightens Borders Amid Fears of New Omicron Variant Detected in South Africa, Botswana And Other Nations

President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Returning Zimbabweans and foreigners visiting the country are now expected to be tested for COVID-19 and be quarantined at their own expense.

In a tweet, the Ministry of Information said President Emmerson Mnangagwa introduced these new measures today amid fears of the Omicron virus detected in South Africa, Botswana and other countries.

The tweet read in part, “All travelers to Zimbabwe will now have a Covid19 PCR Test at all ports of entry at their cost. All travelers and returning residents will now have a mandatory quarantine at their own cost.”

The mandatory quarantine is regardless of the PCR test result.

"All returning residents and visitors have to undergo PCR testing, and will be quarantined, at own cost, for days recommended by WHO, even if they present & negative PCR test results from elsewhere."

“All those eligible for COVID-19 vaccination are being called upon to get vaccinated and the number and behavior of persons attending any gathering must observe & comply with WHO protocols; COVID-19 related funerals to be strictly supervised by the Ministry of Health, Environmental Health Officers & Technicians.”

A 9:00pm to 6:00pm curfew starts today and shops are expected to be open from 7:00am to 7:00pm. Night clubs and bars have been ordered to admit vaccinated clients only.

Several nations have imposed travel restrictions on Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and others following the detection of the Omicron variant in some of these countries.

United Nations secretary general, Antonio Guterres, has expressed unhappiness of the imposition of these travel restrictions.

In a tweet on his official Twitter account, Guterres said, “I'm deeply concerned about the isolation of southern African countries due to new COVID travel restrictions. The people of Africa cannot be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccinations available in Africa – and they should not be penalized for identifying and sharing crucial science and health information with the world."

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has expressed similar sentiments saying, “This is a clear and completely unjustified departure from the commitment that many of these countries made at the meeting of the G20 countries in Rome last month.”

Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, 157 students at Masvingo Teachers’ College have tested positive for COVID-19 and health officials have imposed a mini-lockdown designed to curb a further spike in cases, according to the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

The Ministry of Health also reports that one person died of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe on Monday and 235 tested positive for coronavirus. About 4,706 people have succumbed to COVID-19 in the country since March last year.

Approximately 3.8 million have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than 2.8 million their second dose.

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