Lusaka – The Zambian government has announced the closure of its common border with Tanzania after the country witnessed the highest spike of Covid-19 infections on Saturday.
Health minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya while giving a COVID-19 update said, 85 new cases were recorded on Saturday, May 09. Of the cases, 76 were in Nakonde, the border town with Tunduma in Tanzania.
He revealed that the situation at Nakonde border remains grave and would be temporarily closed to facilitate the implementation of targeted interventions in the area.
“With effect from Monday, May 11, 2020, the Nakonde border will be temporarily closed. There shall be no traffic in and out through the Nakonde border to facilitate the implementation of targeted interventions that include training and re-training of our port staff including immigration, Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), health staff so that we could actually ensure that they are ready to deal with any immigration, migration and movement of goods and services without endangering their lives,” said Dr Chilufya.
“This will also be accompanied with other measures such as re-deployment or deployment of more staff into the area and re-enforcement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and other medical supplies in the area, re arrangement of quarantine facilities and ensuring that business returns to normal as soon as possible when all those measures are put in place without putting the people of nakonde or the staff at risk,” he added.
Speaking at the same briefing, Zambian Home Affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo said government was going to deploy additional law enforcement in Nakonde to ensure that the measures that would be imposed were adhered to.
He cautioned the public not to travel to Nakonde as the area was an epicenter of the novel coronavirus.
Nakonde is among Zambia’s largest border posts, acting as a gateway to East Africa. It remains unclear how long the border will remain closed.
Zambia President Edgar Lungu last week announced the reopening of some sectors of the economy like casinos and gyms which were shut on March 18, saying the economy is taking a hit due to lack of activity.
He said the companies ought to find a way of operating under the new normal as they observe measures meant to slow down the spread of the virus.
So far, the country has recorded 267 positive cases while recoveries stand at 117 with seven related deaths.