Only 10% of Zimbabwe government staff working in offices amid Covid-19 surge

Since January 3 restrictions have included a dawn-to-dusk curfew and the closure of all non-essential businesses

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: REUTERS

Harare — Zimbabwe’s government has scaled down operations amid a new wave of coronavirus infections, with only 10% of its workers available in offices until February 5.

Essential services will be offered by staff exempted from the country’s 30-day lockdown, government spokesperson Nick Mangwana said on Thursday. The remainder who have online access will work from home, he said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa imposed restrictions, including a dawn-to-dusk curfew, and closed all non-essential businesses on January 3 after a spike in virus-related deaths since December. Officials attribute the increase to citizens visiting from neighbouring countries over the festive season.

More than 3-million Zimbabweans are estimated to be based in SA.

“We cannot shut down the government completely, so we have to do our best to ensure government work continues,” Mangwana said. “But we have to minimise contact among workers by taking all possible precautions.”

Zimbabwe had 30,047 reported cases of Covid-19 with 917 deaths as of January 21. Among the fatalities are senior government officials, including former foreign affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo and Ellen Gwaradzimba, the provincial minister for Manicaland.

Thousands of people have been arrested for violating the lockdown and some have been jailed, according to police spokesperson Paul Nyathi.

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