HARARE (Xinhua) — The Zimbabwean government is tightening the screws on people who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 and will soon launch a blitz on the agricultural sector where traders will be inoculated in a bid to arrest the spread of the pandemic.
The latest decision coincides with the country recording its highest daily COVID-19 infections totaling 1,249 on Tuesday, up from 842 the previous day.
The Herald newspaper reported Wednesday that those in marketplaces, grain marketing depots, and tobacco and cotton auction floors would not be allowed to continue operating unless they had been vaccinated.
Frontline workers have also been given a two-week deadline to have been vaccinated, or else they will not receive COVID-19 insurance payouts.
According to information minister Monica Mutsvangwa, about 20 percent of health care workers have not yet been vaccinated despite the fact that they had been prioritized for the inoculation program targeting frontline workers.
At the onset of the vaccination program, President Mnangagwa warned that those who refused to be vaccinated could lose out on some public services.
As he announced enhanced Level 4 lockdown measures on Tuesday, Mnangagwa once again urged citizens to be vaccinated.
“As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, I call upon the whole nation to continue observing the WHO protocols, as well as to embrace the free vaccination program that is availed by Government, to protect all our people,” he said.
He said a vaccination blitz would be rolled out in the border towns and cities, tobacco auction floors, grain and cotton marketing depots, major construction sites, people’s markets and all hotspots.
As of late Tuesday, 544,888 people had been fully vaccinated while 770,709 others had received their first doses.
Also on the same day, Zimbabwe had recorded 48,533 cases, 1,761 deaths and 38,323 recoveries.
The country’s largest COVID-19 center, Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, this week announced that it had experienced a surge in the number of COVID-19 patients seeking admission.
This had resulted in the hospital discharging patients considered to be not in danger to make room for the new patients.
Under the enhanced lockdown measures which took immediate effect and will run for two weeks pending review, commerce and industry will open from 8 am to 3:30 pm in compliance with a curfew to run from 6:30 pm to 6 am.
The industry was instructed to decongest workplaces to 40 percent with the rest working from home.
Intercity movements have been prohibited except for the production and movement of food and medicines.
Travelers with fake COVID-19 documents face custodial sentences after arrest.
Deportees will also be quarantined for 10 days either at places of their choice or at other identified places.
Ministers and parliamentarians were also instructed to disseminate information on vaccination in their constituencies.