by Tichaona Chifamba
HARARE, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- COVID-19 infections have been on a steady rise in Zimbabwe over the past 10 days -- from a low of 27 on Nov. 22 to a high of 712 on Dec. 1, figures issued by the Ministry of Health and Child Care show.
During the same period, the seven-day rolling average for new infections rose from 29 to 227, amid fears that a fourth wave of the pandemic could soon hit the country unless citizens take extra care to curb the spread of the pandemic, which has killed 4,707 people from 135,337 infections as of Dec. 1.
The recovery rate remains high though, with 128,784 cases having been cleared.
Learning institutions have been hard hit, with 316 students and teachers having been infected during the same period. At least three schools in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, have closed after some members of their communities were infected.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday announced enhanced measures to curb the spread of the pandemic, especially in view of the new variant Omicron, which is feared to be more potent than the Delta variant which has been predominant in the country.
The new measures have hit the Diaspora community hard, with many saying that they may not return home for the festive season.
According to the new measures, returning residents and visitors should quarantine for 10 days at their own cost in centers designated by the government after undergoing PCR tests, even if they test negative. The PCR tests are also at their own cost.
COVID-19 negative certificates obtained from outside the borders are no longer relevant.
Those who are found positive will be taken to isolation centers.
Returning residents or visitors found to be negative for COVID-19 may, however, self-quarantine at any premises cleared for the purpose in advance by an enforcement officer acting on the instructions of the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Mnangagwa also extended the curfew, which used to start at 10 p.m. and end at 5:30 a.m., now begins at 9 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m.
Bars and nightclubs are prohibited from selling alcohol to those who are not fully vaccinated while drinking at bottle shops remains banned.