As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the African continent surpassed the 2 million mark, leaders in a number of countries have announced measures to extend curfews or tighten lockdown rules to curb the steady rise in cases.
According to the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases reached 2,807,864 as of Sunday, the death toll has reached 66,631 and a total of 2,332,063 people infected with COVID-19 have recovered from the infectious virus across the continent so far.
Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s president, through an executive order released on Sunday, announced that the nationwide curfew in place is extended to March 12, and it will continue to be enforced between 10 pm and 4 am daily.
Kenyatta added that all forms of public events and gatherings that may act as super spreader events for COVID-19, including political and roadside gatherings, shall remain suspended for the next 60 days.
In Botswana, Edwin Dikoloti, the minister of health and wellness, made an announcement through national television on Sunday, saying the curfew, enacted by the president on Dec 23, will continue to be enforced up to Jan 31 following the emergence of a new and more transmissible strain of COVID-19.
Virus-related risks have increased in Botswana, according to evidence submitted by the director of health services, the minister said, stressing that curfew is effective to curbing rising coronavirus infections. Dikoloti added that rising COVID-19 cases during the Christmas and New Year holidays showed that people have not been strictly abiding by the set regulations to prevent the spreading of the virus.
In Zimbabwe, the government has extended a nationwide curfew, banned gatherings and ordered non-essential businesses closed for a month in an effort to curb a surge in coronavirus infections.
Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe’s vice-president who also is the health minister, said on Saturday that some of the tighter restrictions were effective immediately and included a 6 pm to 6 am curfew and a ban on inter-city travel.
“People must stay at home except for buying food and medicines or transporting sick relatives. Only essential services are to remain open, such as hospitals, pharmacies and supermarkets, with only essential staff allowed to come to work,” Chiwenga told a news conference.
South Africa, which is battling an unprecedented new wave of COVID-19 infections, will also return to a lockdown regime last seen five months ago. The measures taken will include a ban on alcohol sales, an extension of a curfew from 9 pm until 6 am, the closure of all beaches, lakes, dams and rivers and new restrictions on social gatherings.
Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president, told his countrymen in a televised New Year address that those not wearing masks face six months in jail. He added that the lockdown measures could be eased in mid-January if there is a sustained reduction in the number of infections.