Health experts have commended the Government for easing COVID-19 restrictions and making it mandatory for visitors to Zimbabwe to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to be allowed to enter the country.
On Tuesday Information and Publicity minister Monica Mutsvangwa told reporters that for travellers entering the country, the mandatory requirement for negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests is no longer necessary.
Mutsvangwa said returning residents and visitors are now required to present valid vaccination certificates showing that they are fully vaccinated.
Responding to the announcement, Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa said:
It is an indirect way to encourage vaccination. As it is, it will be increasingly difficult for unvaccinated travellers to pass through borders.
Full vaccination has proven to be effective in fighting the virus so that is the only way to go if the country is to win the war against the respiratory disease.
Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive Solwayo Ngwenya said relaxing COVID-19 measures will allow more economic activity though it could result in new coronavirus variants entering the country. Said Ngwenya:
The benefit of easing COVID-19 measures is that it will probably open up the economy.
It will also see an increase in visitors, that is, an increase in tourist arrivals that will ultimately boost our forex earnings.
However, it risks new deadlier variants being easily brought into the country without detection.
Meanwhile, Privilege Torai, a health promotions officer in the Health Ministry on Tuesday decried the low vaccination uptake, as only 31.1% of the country’s population has received the second dose.
She said this was caused by vaccine hesitancy, myths, long distances to vaccination centres, transport-related challenges, and the mobile population not returning for a second dose.