Health experts have warned the government against reopening borders as they fear COVID-19 cases might surge if travel restrictions are relaxed, Newsday reports.
Public health watchdog Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) director Itai Rusike said reopening borders might escalate Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 cases:
The opening of the South African borders may further escalate our COVID-19 cases including deaths,
We are still reaping from the lax behaviour as a country when we opened our borders during the festival season, allowing people from hotspot countries such as South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States to come back home. This triggered a spike in new COVID-19 cases
While Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights executive director Calvin Fambirai said the time might not be ripe for borders to reopen:
South Africa is currently faced with an increased burden of a new variant of COVID-19. Additionally, it also has one of the highest numbers of cases in the Sadc region. Opening borders with South Africa may result in an influx of imported cases, complicating the COVID-19 situation in the country.
Zimbabwe had done fairly well in controlling COVID-19 as evidenced by the decline in new cases and also a declining mortality rate. We urge the authorities to be on the side of caution as far as reopening of borders is concerned until we achieve maximum control of the pandemic.
Solwayo Ngwenya the CEO of Mpilo Hospital who is on record saying COVID-19 is yet to reach its peak in Zimbabwe also said it might not be a good idea to open borders right now:
It is not advisable to reopen borders for now as we face a brewing third wave. The same will happen like the last time the government reopened borders; mass infections and the deaths that we saw in January.
With the new blistering highly infectious and transmissible variant from South Africa, the effects are going to be higher,
The government has said they will be guided by the national COVID-19 taskforce when it comes to making a decision to reopen borders.