HARARE – The Zimbabwean government on Tuesday expressed deep concern at the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the country driven by the omicron variant and plans to bar the unvaccinated from boarding public transport.

“Cabinet notes with concern that there has been a sharp increase in the average total number of new cases reported per day during the past two weeks,” therefore the government will scale up vaccination and tighten measures to curb the spread of the virus, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said at a post-cabinet media briefing. 

COVID-19 daily cases have risen exponentially over the past week, rising from 40 on Nov. 28 to 2,555 on Monday. Mutsvangwa said the government will establish vaccination sites at the main intra and inter-city bus terminals to ensure that those not vaccinated can receive shots of vaccine voluntarily before boarding.

Eventually those without a valid vaccination card will not be allowed to board public transport, she said, adding that the ministries of health and education will continue to collaborate on the vaccination of the 16-17 year age group in schools. 

Official data showed that as of Monday, the country’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 141,601 with 128,966 recoveries and 4,713 deaths. A total of 3,882,255 people have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 2,892,366 their second dose.

Zimbabwe aims to inoculate 60 percent of the population by the year-end. Since the detection of the omicron variant in the country, the government has declared that all returning residents and visitors must undergo PCR testing and quarantine at their own cost, regardless of the test results. 

Curfew hours have been increased to run from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. No alcohol can be consumed at bottle stores while nightclubs and bars can only admit vaccinated clients. – Xinhua News.