Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday imposed a curfew and reinstated strict measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus following a spike in cases in recent weeks.
The number of cases recorded in the southern African country, whose health system has been tottering from years of neglect, rose by nearly a third over the past week to a total 1,713 cases.
The number of deaths climbed from 18 to 26.
“We can no longer be complacent and that requires urgent and decisive measures,” Mnangagwa said during a national address.
“These urgent and necessary measures will entail curtailing the freedoms we have always enjoyed and grown accustomed to.”
Starting Wednesday, security forces will enforce a dusk-to-dawn curfew between 6:00 pm and 6:00 am.
Mnangagwa said “all non-working” people will be required to stay at home and may only go out to buy groceries and seek health care.
Travel between cities and gatherings of more than 50 people for social, religious and political reasons remained banned.
Mnangagwa initially imposed a 21-day lockdown on March 30, banning large gatherings and ordering most businesses to close except food shops in a move aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
In May he relaxed the restrictions, allowing large corporations to open but under strict conditions to ensure the safety of their staff and customers.
The latest measures effectively ban a protest organised by opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume against state corruption and worsening economic troubles.
The nationwide protests had been slated for July 31.
Police arrested Ngarivhume along with prominent investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono.
Chin’ono had lately been writing about alleged corruption involving funds earmarked for anti-coronavirus supplies in what was dubbed “Covidgate”.
They were both charged with incitement to commit public violence.