By Jeff Kapembwa
Lusaka – Zambia has been asked to refund a staggering US$5 million to German tourists for a botched expedition in the country as a result of the corona virus Covid-19.
According to Tourism Minister, Ronald Chitotela, a staggering US$5 million should be reimbursed to about 11 German tourists who are currently stranded in Zambia.
This was after the tourists were already in the country to visit various spots when the restrictions on the movements were announced as a measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19, leaving them stranded.
Chitotela confirmed the development stating that the predicaments had forced the government to engage other countries to help the German tourists find their way to their home country by transiting through neighbours, who are not willing to do so for fear of harbouring the plague.
Citing correspondence with the Zambia Tourism Association (ZTA), the 11 German travelers are demanding refunds to return to their country after their expedition fell through, citing poor communication, which they argue lacked clarity, hence the losses.
The situation has been compounded by Zambia’s neighbours refusing to provide passage after their authorised stay in Zambia expired.
“Our friends from South Africa have refused passage to them but we are still engaging them to say Zambia is still safe.
“They came to visit and the period of staying in Zambia has lapsed so they want to go back to their country but we don’t have a direct flight from Zambia to Germany, so they need to get through other countries.”
Zambia has been one of the countries in Africa afflicted with Covid-19, recording three cases with the recent one being last week after a national of foreign origin visited Pakistan from March 9 to 18 and tested positive upon arrival in Zambia.
Health Minister, Chitalu Chilufya, announced the development stating that the victim, a 59-year-old man of Lusaka, traveled to Pakistan early this month and was found to have some Covid-19 symptoms.
“He is currently stable and admitted to our isolation facility and his contacts are being traced. The two cases that we admitted earlier that we confirmed laboratory positive are recuperating well and today we are repeating our tests to ascertain progress.”
Dr Chilufya, however, warned people against flouting the regulations put in place by the government towards preventions and those ignoring risked being arrested as it was against the law.
United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, described the Covid-19 as an epitome of global health crisis ever seen in the 75-year existence of the global body.
“My central message is clear: We are in an unprecedented situation and the normal rules no longer apply. We cannot resort to the usual tools in such unusual times,” he said.
“The creativity of the response must match the unique nature of the crisis – and the magnitude of the response must match its scale. Our world faces a common enemy. We are at war with a virus. Covid-19 is killing people, as well as attacking the real economy at its core – trade, supply chains, businesses, jobs.
“Entire countries and cities are in lockdown. Borders are closing. Companies are struggling to stay in business and families are simply struggling to stay afloat.”
Guterres warned that a global economic recession was imminent because most industries had been closed.
“We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations — one that is spreading human suffering, infecting the global economy and upending people’s lives. A global recession – perhaps of record dimensions – is a near certainty,” Guterres warned.
“The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has just reported that workers around the world could lose as much as 3.4 trillion US dollars in income by the end of this year. This is, above all, a human crisis that calls for solidarity. Our human family is stressed and the social fabric is being torn. People are suffering, sick and scared.”
He appealed to individual countries to scale-up efforts in fighting the virus.
“Health spending must be scaled up right away to meet urgent needs and the surge in demand – expanding testing, bolstering facilities, supporting health care workers, and ensuring adequate supplies – with full respect for human rights and without stigma,” he said.