‘Porous borders to blame in Covid-19 surge’

THE government says the country’s porous borders are to blame for the surge in Covid-19 cases, as authorities are failing to control the movement of illegal cross-border traders.

Education minister Cain Mathema, who is also the chairperson of the Matabeleland North Province Covid-19 taskforce, said illegal cross-borders were giving the government a headache.

“We have a national challenge with illegal crossing points. Provinces like Matabeleland North, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central provinces are experiencing a spike in cases due to cross border jumping,” he said.

Mathema, who was speaking during a Covid-19 taskforce meeting held in Bulawayo at the weekend, said there was a need to engage traditional leaders to discourage border jumping, especially in rural communities.

This comes as Covid-19 cases have been on the increase in recent days. Zimbabwe has embarked on a vaccination drive, with over one million people having received their first jab, while plus 600 000 their second, as the country aims to inoculate 10 million people to reach herd immunity by December this year.

The inoculation programme, which had stalled in recent weeks due to shortage of doses, received a major boost when two million vaccines arrived from China last week. 

The country is set to receive a further 1,5 million doses this week and another two million doses by the end of the month. 

Speaking also at the Bulawayo meeting, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Richard Moyo said people were illegally entering the country through Binga and Hwange districts, which have since been identified as hotspots.

“For instance, we have Zambians who spend the day in Binga doing fish business and in the evening they cross back to their country. 

“This is the same with Zimbabweans who are also spending the day conducting business in Zambia and come back home putting others at risk,” he said.

With the porous borders having brought more challenges, Moyo urged the citizens to adhere to lockdown regulations, to curb the spread of the virus and increase awareness campaigns.

“It is better to pause business a bit while waiting for the situation to improve than risking lives. I urge the public to continue avoiding unnecessary movements, to mask up and sanitise always,” he said.

Tamary Chikiwa