Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa looks on as he gives a media conference at the State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe President Orders Schools, Colleges to Close Next Week

By Fidelis Munyoro

All schools, colleges and universities must close next Tuesday as the Government steps up efforts to ensure any outbreak of coronavirus in Zimbabwe is controlled and minimised.

So far, no case has been confirmed yet.

While originally the Government was prepared to let the normal term end, President Mnangagwa yesterday said, in a statement, that the Government’s new decision was informed by concerns raised by parents and the education sector.

The President said while Zimbabwe had not recorded any case of the virus to date, Government thought it prudent to err on the side of caution, more so since teaching institutions had high levels of human concentration and contact.

“The decision is part of the general precautionary measures the country is taking in light of the worldwide outbreak and rapid spread of the coronavirus,” he said.

On Tuesday, President Mnangagwa said Government would advise on dates for the reopening of all schools and colleges in the country once the threat of the virus is judged to have receded.

He said March 24 should allow for an orderly closure of the institutions and for parents to arrange for the safe travel of pupils and students to their homes.

The President has since barred gatherings of more than 100 people, including church services, sporting events and weddings.

He has also declared coronavirus a state of national disaster, giving the Government flexibility to cope effectively and re-channel resources.

Even though there has yet to be a confirmed case in the country, Zimbabwe is putting in place the measures many other countries started implementing after their first cases. Generally the earlier such measures are put in place, the fewer people are infected. The worst outbreaks, in Western Europe, saw infection rates rise rapidly in the early stages as countries tried to carry on as normal. Should Zimbabwe have an outbreak many required measures are already active.

As it stands, there is no proven drug treatment for the new coronavirus and those falling ill have to be nursed through the infection until they are better.

Parliament on Wednesday adjourned for seven weeks and suspended all international travel and public hearings as part of national precautions against coronavirus while courts solemnising civil marriages are limiting attendance to just the couple and two witnesses. Churches have agreed to limit services and numbers attending these.

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