Zimbabwe’s president has declared a state of national disaster as the country anticipates the impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid19) – even though there are no confirmed infections there.
Anadulo Agency reported that the action came after a UK tourist tested positive following a trip to Victoria Falls.
It reported that President Emmerson Mnangagwa issued a proclamation on Tuesday, banning gatherings of more than 100 people.
The action echoes measures taken in South Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a sombre call to action on Sunday as the number of infections in South Africa increased. No deaths have been reported in South Africa.
In line with Ramaphosa’s announcement, schools closed on Wednesday and many mass events were either postponed or cancelled.
South Africa has closed a number of border crossings with neighbouring countries to limit the movement of people, rather than cargo, but Zimbabwe’s border crossing with South Africa remains open.
In Zimbabwe, VOAZimbabwe reported that schools would not be closed but that life for citizens would “drastically change”.
According VOAZimbabwe, Mnangagwa’s announcement prohibited local and international travel as well as gatherings, such as weddings and funerals, as well as the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, scheduled for 21 to 25 April. The country’s 40th independence celebrations on 18 April were suspended, Shafaqna .com reported.
The publication said money set aside for the event in Bulawayo would be redirected toward fighting the coronavirus.
Zimbabwe’s defence minister Oppah Muchinguri attracted criticism recently when he announced that the coronavirus was God’s punishment on western countries which imposed sanctions on the African nation.
The virus has killed more than 7 000 people worldwide and infected nearly 200 000.
Most of the deaths are in China, followed by Italy and Iran.