Zimbabwe has detected the first cases of the new coronavirus variant that emerged in India, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said , adding that all travellers from the Asian nation would be required to undergo mandatory quarantine.
Chiwenga, who also doubles as Zimbabwe’s health minister, said in a statement the cases had been detected among a group of people in the central town of Kwekwe after a student returned from India on April 29.
“People travelling from or transiting from India will be subject to mandatory quarantine at a designated quarantine centre and at their own cost,” Chiwenga said. Travellers from India would be subjected to a Covid-19 test on arrival even if they have been tested in their country of origin.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s health minister recently assured the nation that the country was on high alert for the COVID-19 variant circulating in India.
“We have registered the great concern that South Africans have expressed over possible recent importation of variants of concerns,” Zweli Mkhize said in a statement. He added that the government shares the concern, but assured the public they are a very capable nation that knows how to deal with the burden of a new variant. “Our teams remain on high alert to survey, detect, and contain the spread of COVID-19 in general, with a heightened awareness of travelers from countries where variants of concern are dominating,” the minister said.
The minister’s statement came after a private healthcare group of hospitals confirmed that a patient who recently traveled to India tested positive for COVID-19, but the variant the patient had was not yet established. Mkhize warned citizens against being drawn into mistrust and sometimes even having racist rhetoric against those from countries with variants of concern.
Zimbabwe has recorded 38,595 Covid-19 cases and 1,583 deaths since last year. A total of 600,579 people have received Covid-19 vaccines from China and India. South Africa has the highest COVID-19 case burden on the continent with 1.59 million infections, including 54,511 deaths and 1.5 million recoveries.
By Eric Knight
By Eric Knight