By Jeff Kapembwa
Lusaka - Zambia has recorded 12 cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) since its outbreak and has ordered a shutdown of three major airports, businesses to either suspend operations or decimate to takeaway outlets as countervailing measures to contain the plague.
Announcing the measures, effective midnight Thursday, President Edgar Lungu disclosed that 10 new positive cases had been detected from some people that had traveled outside the country.
Earlier, two positive cases, involving a Zambian couple, had been recorded after the duo, with their two children had traveled to France and transited in epicentres where they were infected. They were immediately quarantined upon arrival at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
“Exactly nine days after the first two Covid-19-cases were announced, ten (10) more cases have now been identified bringing the number to 12. Eleven of them had traveled abroad in recent weeks and acquired the disease from outside the country,” Lungu said in a live national broadcast on national television.
Zambia has since suspended non-essential foreign travel, particularly, to countries with confirmed Covid-19 cases; suspended public gatherings, conferences, weddings, and funerals.
Festivals are to be restricted to at least 50 people subject to them complying with public health authority guidelines. Restaurants must operate only on a take-away and delivery basis while all bars, night clubs, cinemas, gyms, and casinos have been closed as part of the measures to avert further spread.
All international flights to and from Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe and Mfuwe international airports are suspended. All international flights will now land at and depart from Kenneth Kaunda international airport only to ensure efficient and effective screening of travelers, as well as following them up by our health authorities.
Zambian missions abroad and department of immigration have been directed to review the issuance of visas for people wanting to travel to Zambia, as well as at all ports of entry into the country for all travelers from countries affected by Covid-19.
Travelers will be allowed entry into Zambia upon screening, and those exhibiting symptoms will be quarantined in a medical facility for treatment, while all other travelers without symptoms will be quarantined for at least 14 days at their own cost.
President Lungu allayed fears of the possible closure of borders with its neighbours, saying as Zambia was landlocked, doing so would compromise bilateral trade agreements.
“Zambia is landlocked and that means, with a crisis of this magnitude, we shall find ourselves under forced lockdown if all our neighbours close their borders. This situation would make us economically vulnerable and weaker,” he said.
Against such punitive measures against the spread of Covid-19, a phased strategy intervention for the low and high-income groups, low and high-density areas, and rural and urban areas has been devised.
All businesses dealing in goods and services will be kept running, President Lungu said.