THE Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19 headed by Vice-President Kembo Mohadi is now mandated to update the country on the regular fortnightly reviews of the indefinite national lockdown announced by President Mnangagwa.

The President, two weeks ago announced that the country would continue on Level Two lockdown for an indefinite period with regular two-week reviews to assess progress or lack of it in the battle to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The first two-week interval expires today.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana told Sunday News yesterday that the reviews were now a mandate of the Inter-Ministerial taskforce on Covid-19 and each portfolio in the taskforce will first present progress or lack of it.

“President Mnangagwa will only address the nation (during the reviews) when necessary. The inter-ministerial taskforce on Covid-19 will be tasked with giving the fortnightly reviews,” he said.

Among the major issue Zimbabwe has faced in the last two weeks is the surge in the number of imported Covid-19 positive cases. Mr Mangwana said security has since been tightened at all borders and Covid-19 quarantine centres as the Government aims at curbing the number of people escaping from the facilities thereby exposing the public to the global pandemic.

The police have also launched a hotline for the public to whistle blow border jumpers and smuggling syndicates in the country who could have the potential of exposing communities to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Mangwana said all these were measures to protect the public from people who might try to cheat the system, avoiding being quarantined and tested.

“The reason we have come up with this hotline number (0242703631) is because of the positive figures which indicate that the probability that someone coming into the country from neighbouring country can test positive. We are therefore trying to protect communities,” said Mr Mangwana.

He added that security at the quarantine centres had been boosted.

“Security is being boosted to ensure that nobody can leave quarantine centres unless authorised.”

National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said police have noted that a number of people were skipping the required channels so as to avoid being quarantined thereby exposing the public to the dangers of contracting the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We noted that there are people who are embarking on border jumping, these are unfortunately exposing the communities they live in to the Covid-19 pandemic, therefore as a means or curtailing this we have come up with a hotline number where we are encouraging the public to expose these people so we protect ourselves from this pandemic.

“Further we recently arrested over 100 suspected smugglers, of which we are saying the public can also use this hotline to report these smugglers. Smuggling is in itself a criminal activity but these people are exposing our communities to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our call to the public is to put their lives first and report such criminality,” said Ass Comm Nyathi.

Reports indicate that cross border dealers in Beitbridge were using illegal points to cross into South Africa and back, smuggling an assortment of goods for resale. Ass Comm Nyathi said to date police have arrested 46 871 people nationwide for violating the national lockdown regulations. In terms of people who have escaped from isolation and quarantine centres, Asst Comm Nyathi revealed that 152 have escaped of which 23 had been recaptured and taken back to the centres.

-State Media

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