3 400 people arrested for defying lockdown

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Godknows Matarutse 



POLICE arrested 3 454 people on the first day of the Covid-19 lockdown extension on Tuesday as some people continued to defy even the relaxed measures against the pandemic. 

This brings the cumulative arrests of lockdown violators to 434 999 since March 2020 when the government imposed the measures to combat the pandemic.

On Monday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended the current lockdown by two more weeks at a time the government is preparing to inoculate 60 percent of the citizens starting today.

While Mnangagwa relaxed some of the measures, including the curfew period and allowing informal markets to open albeit after satisfying World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, some appeared to misconstrue the directive.

“The ZRP confirms the arrest of 3 454 people on February 16, 2021 throughout the country for various offences related to contraventions of the national lockdown regulations, bringing the total cumulative arrests to 434 999.

“A total of 971 suspects were arrested for failure to wear face masks and 144 for opening business establishments during national lockdown except those exempted, 1 879 for unnecessary movement during national lockdown except those exempted while 24 were arrested for liquor-related offences,” police national spokesperson Paul Nyathi said yesterday.

Level 4 of the national lockdown that came into force on January 5 entails that all funerals are limited to 30 people while gatherings such as weddings and church services remain banned for the next two weeks.

Unlike before, where a 6pm-to-6am curfew introduced in January was in force, this has been relaxed to between 8pm to 5:30pm.

Airports would remain open, but intercity travel remains banned with borders open only to commercial cargo and vehicles transiting to other countries.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe on Monday took delivery of its first Covid-19 vaccines after a plane-load of 200 000 doses from China arrived in the country, signalling the start of the inoculation programme.

The programme will be carried out in three stages and involves the vaccination of frontline workers, including those in the health and security sectors as well as other civil servants first, followed by people with underlying health conditions like those with HIV and Aids, diabetes, hypertension, asthma and other patients before finally inoculating the rest of the population.

The country expects a further 600 000 doses from China in early March.

Zimbabwe has set aside $100 million for vaccine procurement, and is looking to buy 20 million doses in efforts to immunise 10 million people to achieve herd immunity.

By Tuesday, the country  had recorded 35 315 confirmed cases and 1 414 deaths.

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