Mandatory COVID-19 testing at courts


Davison Kaiyo

Zimbabweans attending court session will undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing as Zimbabwe continues its battle against the pandemic which has already claimed 1 418 lives as of Wednesday this week.

According to a Practice Direction by Chief Justice Luke Malaba, the development was in line with Statutory Instrument 42 of 2021 gazetted to give effect to the lockdown extension announced by President Mnangagwa recently.

Those attending will be required to sanitise their hands at entry into court premises; wear face masks in the manner prescribed by law; avoid person to person contact while maintaining social distancing.

“Any person who does not comply with the requirements specified in paragraph 8 shall not be allowed entry into court premises/courthouse/ courtroom; or shall be asked to leave the court premises or courtroom or courthouse,” he said.

Chief Justice Malaba said only litigants, their legal practitioners, necessary witnesses and identified members of the press would be allowed to attend court sessions.

Meanwhile, government has gazetted the provisions extending the Level 4 National Lockdown by a further two weeks.

According to Section 2 of the Statutory Instrument, the lockdown will continue at Level 4 until March 1, this year.

Essential services such as retail shops will now be allowed to operate from 8am 5pm while curfew imposed during the lockdown has been reviewed starting from 8pm to 5:30am.

Schools and colleges including other public gatherings such as churches, weddings and others remain banned while funerals has be restricted to 30 people attending while following the gazetted WHO guidelines.

In his State of the Nation address, President Mnangagwa said the goals for the national lockdown are within sight with witnessing a decrease in infection and deaths while the number of active cases are still high.

“The extension will allow the number of active cases and those still in incubation to recede and allow the health workers time to evaluate the possible presence of new variants.

“While the national lockdown goals are within sight, the numbers of active cases are still very high. These need to come down further. Every life lost is a big loss to us,” he said.

The new provisions will also see public service manning increased from the current 10 percent to 25 percent.

Intercity and interprovincial commuting remain banned.

Meanwhile, Confederation of the Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu welcomed the latest development saying government had taken into considering the proposal from the business sector.

“The government duly accorded our requests which included extension of trading hours as well as the curfew hours. The extension therefore observes the need to continue fighting the pandemic while strategically supporting and protecting the economy. We believe the latest intervention is progressive and balanced,” he said.

Zimbabwe has recorded 35 423 COVID-19 cumulative cases since the first case was recorded in March last year.

The country recorded highest daily confirmed cases of the virus of above 1 000 with the cumulative number of confirmed cases increasing by more than 58 percent from 13,867 cases including 363 deaths on December 31 last year to 33 271 cases including 1 193 deaths by January 31, 2021.

Zimbabwe has, however, taken receipt of the 200 000 doses of Sinophram vaccines from China and is expecting 600 000 more as the country rolls out its COVID19 vaccination program with first inoculation being administered starting today.

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