Zimbabwe registered 300 new coronavirus cases and one death on Wednesday as police announced a ban on all New Year celebrations, including all-night prayers and musical gigs.
Covid-19 cases and deaths have been on a steady increase in the last few weeks with national infections now totaling 13,625 and 360 fatalities. Recoveries stand at 11,154, leaving active cases at 2111.
Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi reminded Zimbabweans that all gatherings remain outlawed in line with Covid restrictions, including prayer sessions that normally characterize New Year’s eve.
Licenses that had been issued to churches for such events have since been revoked.
“No all-night prayers, musical galas, or concerts are allowed. Operators of bars and nightclubs should take note that they are yet to be allowed to operate,” Nyathi cautioned in a statement.
“Police will intensify patrols, conduct stop and searches in all residential, industrial, farming, and other areas where the public will be undertaking various activities. Let us celebrate New Year’s Eve in a responsible manner and remain alert for the safety of all Zimbabweans and effective maintenance of law and order in the country.
“We want people to be responsible as they welcome the New Year given that this year is different because of the Covid-19 pandemic that restricts gatherings. People need to consider their safety first because it appears that there are people out there who want to take advantage of these illegal gatherings to commit crimes.
“The crossover gatherings also expose people to the pandemic hence the police will not allow such gatherings,” Nyathi added.
From yesterday’s new infections, 287 are local transmissions while 13 are returnees from neighboring Botswana and South Africa where a new fast-spreading variant of Covid-19 has been detected.
Outgoing MDC-T president Thokozani Khupe, who attended her party’s contested extra-ordinary congress on Sunday is among those who tested positive.
Khupe announced her status on Twitter and appealed for prayers. “I have tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating and I ask for your prayers,” she said.
Now there is concern her fellow congress-goers might also be in jeopardy after the Harare event where social distancing and other requisite Covid-19 protocols were barely observed.
The gathering might turn out to be a super spreader, some health experts worry.