President Mnangagwa has not extended the lockdown period, contrary to some social media reports and people peddling fake news, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa has said.
Giving updates on the 21-day lockdown from the inter-ministerial ad-hoc committee on the Covid-19 last night, Minister Mutsvangwa warned paddlers of such falsehoods that they face the full wrath of the law if caught.
“We also want to continue telling you that it is against the law to circulate fake news concerning Covid-19,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
“Government notes with concern some misleading social media statements stating that the President has extended the lockdown period to 3 May.
“This is not the case, we all know that when the President proclaimed the lockdown he said he would review it at the end and we are waiting for that. It is criminal to circulate fake news and the relevant laws will be invoked to prosecute offenders.
“In terms of accurate information, Government will keep the nation informed through its official Government media channels, as well as mainstream media, including radio and television.”
Statutory Instrument 82 makes it a criminal offence to peddle fake news, with culprits facing up to 20 years in jail if convicted.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Ministry of Health and Child Care had established a hotline (2019) to deal with clinical issues concerning the disease, while her ministry was in the process of establishing another one to deal with non-clinical issues.
She said 14 positive cases have been confirmed in the country and three had since succumbed to the illness.
“To date, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of at least 103 000 people and infected more than 1,7 million people worldwide,” she said. “Out of these, more than 380 000 people have recovered. There is still no vaccine for Covid 19 or any specially developed treatment.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government embarked on a disinfecting programme that would see all public places across the country’s 10 provinces being fumigated against the coronavirus that cases Covid-19.