Our borders will stay open: Govt

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THE government is not contemplating closing Zimbabwe’s borders for now, as the lethal coronavirus continues to spread and to create havoc around the world, the Daily News reports.

This comes as many countries are taking drastic measures ranging from closing their borders and banning big public gatherings, as part of desperate efforts to halt the spread of the killer disease.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily News at the weekend, Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo ruled out the closure of the country’s borders, saying instead that the government would intensify screening of the coronavirus at all border points.

“We want to prepare everyone for the disease so that if it comes into the country people know what to do and how to respond.

“People should accept basics such as washing hands, not shaking hands and avoiding public gatherings.

“We are going to deploy teams to our borders so that we make sure everyone who comes into this country is screened and monitored,” Moyo said.

“We have more than a thousand people that we are closely monitoring while they are in isolation. Shutting down the borders, however, will not help.

“The shutdown we envisage is one where everyone is tested and screened and then monitored.

“We cannot also close our borders because we are importing maize and other basics from different parts of the world. So, what we can only do is thorough screening at borders,” Moyo further told the Daily News.

This comes as health experts have been pressuring the government to take more drastic measures to prevent the country from being ravaged by the coronavirus if it eventually arrives here.

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) secretary Norman Matara at the weekend told the Daily News that the government needed to impose an immediate ban on public gatherings and travel.

“Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not recommended travel bans as a solution to minimise infection, we really think the government should seriously consider travel restrictions, especially from the most Covid-19 hit countries like China, Italy, Iran and South Korea.

“Our health system is not well equipped and financed to respond to an epidemic such as Covid-19, hence preventing the disease remains the only cheaper and effective option.

“At the moment since we have no confirmed case we are in the containment phase — where the aim is to prevent the disease from taking hold.

“Continuing with public gatherings shows lack of urgency in dealing with this pandemic, considering that during the gatherings we might not have adequate infection control measures like provision of hand sanitisers, clean water and face masks,” Matara said.

At the beginning of the month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that the government had cut down on foreign travel by Cabinet ministers and senior officials to avoid them contracting coronavirus on their sojourns.

According to WHO, coronavirus comes from a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.

Its symptoms include pneumonia, high fever, flu, shortness of breath and diarrhoea — and the precautions that have to be taken include covering the mouth when coughing and sneezing, and continuously washing hands.

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