Zimbabwe locks down to fight virus

Zimbabwe's president told citizens to take the restrictions on movement seriously.
Zimbabwe's president told citizens to take the restrictions on movement seriously.

Zimbabwe has begun a 21-day nationwide lockdown following South Africa in implementing tough anti-coronavirus measures that are likely to hurt an economy already suffering from hyperinflation and food shortages.

But unlike neighbouring South Africa, where many citizens defied calls to stay indoors and some clashed with security forces at the weekend, Zimbabweans mostly stayed home.

Zimbabwe has recorded just seven coronavirus cases and one death but President Emmerson Mnangagwa said in a televised address that citizens should take the restrictions on movement seriously.

"I want all of you to spend the next 21 days acting as if you already have the virus ... Would you want to infect your friends, would you want to infect your families, would you want to infect your countrymen? Of course not. So, keep your distance," Mnangagwa said.

The finance ministry said it had made available 500 million Zimbabwean dollars (about $A32 million) and would unfreeze 4000 posts in the health sector.

In South Africa, many of the most vulnerable people have struggled to observe the lockdown, and people in poor, overcrowded townships have continued to mingle, sometimes prompting security forces to use water cannon to break them up.

State broadcaster SABC aired videos of soldiers humiliating people, making them do squats and pulling one along the ground with a wire.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said they should not use excessive force.

South Africa's number of confirmed cases rose to 1326 and three deaths on Monday.

In Nigeria's capital, Abuja, and the main city, Lagos, those who could afford to stock up queued at shops before a 14-day lockdown starting on Monday night.

Botswana recorded its first three coronavirus cases, and Mozambique declared a state of emergency. Namibian police fined and arrested at least 36 people for violating virus restrictions.

Angola recorded its first two coronavirus deaths at the weekend, local news agency Angop reported.

Australian Associated Press