International

Zimbabwe arrests 10,000 for not wearing face masks

Zimbabwe has seen a surge in Covid-19 cases since Christmas

Police in Zimbabwe have arrested 10,000 people over the last week for failing to wear face masks in public and 16,000 others for flouting lockdown restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, the authorities say.

Most of the offenders were ordered to pay an admission of guilt fine, the privately-owned NewZimbvbawe.com website reported.

A hard lockdown came into force on 5 January after cases doubled last month because of festive season gatherings and traffic from neighbouring South Africa, which is experiencing a severe second wave of the virus.

The highest number of daily deaths from coronavirus – 38 – were recorded on Wednesday. Currently more than 9,000 people have Covid-19.

The surge in cases has threatened to overwhelm health services, and health care workers have been hit by a shortage of protective gear as they battle to cope with an increase in the number of patients, the state-owned Herald newspaper reports.

Healthcare workers have been hit by shortages of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) as the number of patients increases.

In total, there have been more than 34,000 Covid-19 cases and almost 600 deaths since the first case was detected in March.