Time to close our borders
HARRY PETER WILSON – ZIMBABWE is running out of time as it continues to dither on the issue of closing our borders, especially for nationals coming from coronavirus-hit areas.
Several African governments have since closed borders, cancelled flights and imposed strict entry and quarantine requirements, sending a clear message that they are finally taking the coronavirus crisis seriously.
Our government should introduce strict measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has a foothold in at least 26 countries on the continent as cases keep rising.
Government should urgently put in place measures that include a ban on travel from any country that is known to have the virus.
We also need to take stock of the tourists booked at all our hotels and resorts; when did they come in, identify their origins and screen them.
That data is important as it will guide us as we implement and enforce stringent measures.
In some countries, hotels have locked down since the outbreak was reported and guests have been trapped for weeks on end within the facilities.
As a precautionary measure, we also have to monitor movement of diplomats based here who are from affected countries; equally we need to monitor our own diplomats posted outside as they may sneak into the country.
Zimbabwe has students scattered throughout the world at various universities and colleges who will be trickling into the country, hence we need to keep a check on them.
With schools throughout the world shutting down, a number of parents will be making frantic efforts to bring their children nearer their families.
We also need to strictly enforce the ban on public gatherings and these include political rallies, weddings, music concerts, church services, funerals and sports competitions.
Equally important is the closure of all education institutions; let us temporarily close our schools, colleges and universities as we monitor the situation so as to save our young ones.
Already our neighbour South Africa, which has recorded 116 cases, have declared a national state of disaster; hence they are subjecting to testing and quarantine everyone returning home; they will also prohibit gatherings of more than 100 people.
The Kenyan government has suspended travel from any country with reported coronavirus cases, only allowing its citizens, and any foreigners with valid residence permits, to come in provided they proceed on self-quarantine.
Schools in Kenya have been closed immediately and universities will shut down by the end of the week.
Ghana banned entry from Tuesday to anyone who has been to a country with more than 200 coronavirus cases in the past 14 days.
The government said universities and schools will be closed until further notice while public gatherings will be banned for four weeks.
Namibia ordered schools to close for a month after recording its first two cases on Saturday.
Tanzania cancelled flights to India and suspended school games.
Mozambique has banned all gatherings of more than 300 people; Morocco and Djibouti have suspended all international flights while Tunisia has closed all borders and suspended prayers in mosques.
Zimbabwe cannot be the only African countries with its borders wide open, it is time government takes action.
l Harry Peter Wilson is DOP president