A commuter wearing a face mask awaits transport to get out of the central business district of Harare. AFP/Jekesai Njikizana

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s government on Saturday imposed a national lockdown with immediate effect, following a surge in COVID-19 cases, creating a major problem for most citizens who rely on the informal employment sector.

Only essential services, such as hospitals, pharmacies and supermarkets will remain operational for the next 30 days, putting more pressure on already poverty-stricken families.

 

The southern African nation is already struggling with a deepening economic crisis, hyperinflation and high unemployment.

The government first imposed a nationwide lockdown in March to contain the spread of COVID-19 but had eased most of those measures amid fears of further economic malaise

Vice President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga told reporters there had been a huge spike in cases over the festive season which almost doubled the number of infections recorded throughout the year.

“In light of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases the following stiff lockdown measures are being put in place with immediate effect,” he said.

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