It has now been over 8 months since the world was sent into turmoil with the Covid-19 outbreak. It has affected everyone’s life in one way or another. On 1stOctober 2020, Zimbabwe opened its international boarders to tourists and visitors, after 6 months of lockdown. This was very welcome news, as Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa, rely heavily on tourism as a means of survival. After 6 months without international tourism, Zimbabwe is slowly starting to see a recovery, although these effects will be felt for a while still.
COVID-19 & It’s Impacts
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.
Most common symptoms: fever, dry cough, loss in taste or smell
Serious symptoms: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, loss of speech or movement.
On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days.
How can I enter Zimbabwe now?
Unlike neighbouring South Africa, Zimbabwe has no imposed restrictions on particular countries, meaning that you are free to enter Zimbabwe, in accordance to the immigration and visa rules, as per pre-lockdown. It is a mandatory requirement to present a negative covid-19 test, within 48 hours of departure. If you do not possess this, you will be tested on arrival for US$60.
Is it still safe to travel abroad?
As Covid continues to circulate, it is vital that you take the additional precautions to keep yourself and others safe. But that should not deter you from travel. Air travel itself is considered relatively safe:
- 2 billion passengers have travelled since the start of 2020, with 44 cases reported of confirmed, probable or potential transmission associated with a flight. This is equal to 1 in 27 million.
- Most of these 44 cases happened beforemask-wearing or biosafety measures were put in place.
- Even if 90% of cases were unreported, the risk remains very low at 1 in 2.7 million.
The WHO recommend that during travel, everyone should clean hands frequently, cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue, and try to maintain a physical distance of at least one metre from others. Travelers should follow the recommendations of the travel authorities regarding policies in the airport and of the airline for the flight.
In Zimbabwe, you will be required to wear a mask throughout the airport. You will be asked to fill out forms, recording your past locations, as well as your current health state. You will also undergo a temperature check and be asked to walk through a sterilization system. This are all formalities and not something to be put off by.
With the news of Zimbabwe’s international borders reopening, more airlines have resumed their flight schedules. It is important to check the specific regulations of your transit country (such as South Africa, Dubai UAE or Addis Ababa Ethiopia) as they may impose further restrictions. For example, South Africa have issued an extensive list of countries, who are not authorised to enter the country, even for transit. These transit countries will most likely require a negative COVID test to enter, as do most airlines in order to board your flight.
It is worthy of note that many countries will require you to quarantine on arrival back home. Currently, this is usually for 14 days. You may also be required to complete a passenger track and trace form, before departure back home. You will also be required to pass over your details upon arrival into Zimbabwe.
The nature of volunteering abroad means that volunteers are needed to support projects all year-round. This need is still very real, despite the coronavirus.
Following the news of the opening of Zimbabwe’s international borders on 1stOctober 2020, Volunteer Encounter are once any accepting volunteers on our Zimbabwe projects. All placements that were booked to come during the lockdown period, are now able to rearrange their impending booking and we are accepting new bookings and volunteers.
We are implementing strict COVID rules and measures across all of our projects, to ensure the safety of our volunteers, guests and staff. The safety of our volunteers, guests and staff is our upmost priority. You can find our full COVID policy here:
Antelope Park has been inspected and cleared by the ministry of health as a quarantine facility. While we do not actively accept quarantine cases, it enables any volunteer, if the situation was to arise where they needed to self-isolate, to do so in the comfort of a portion of Antelope Park and in a safe, approved way.
We strongly recommend that if you have booked to come on a project with us this year and are in doubt whether you can keep to your original project dates, that you reschedule your placement instead of cancelling. This ensures that any monies that have been paid can still be distributed accordingly to assist existing teams on the ground with the important work they are doing with community development projects and wildlife conservation.
Should there be any change or update to the existing travel restrictions we will proactively contact all impacted volunteers. Any volunteer or prospective volunteer, who would like to know more can contact the Volunteer Encounter Team.
Recommendations for international travellers
- The CDC recommends that travellers should avoid contact with sick people and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing immediately of the tissue and performing hand hygiene.
- Refrain from touching mouth and nose.
Should I wear a mask to protect myself against the coronavirus?
Masks are a key measure to suppress transmission and save lives. Masks reduce potential exposure risk from an infected person whether they have symptoms or not. People wearing masks are protected from getting infected. Masks also prevent onward transmission when worn by a person who is infected.
But remember, masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand washing or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer,physical distancing, avoiding crowded, closed and close-contact settings.
It is a legal requirement to wear a mask in public places in Zimbabwe. This includes when travelling in a private vehicle. It is essential that you carry a mask at all times and wear that mask when required, such as when in contact with people.
How does this compare to other outbreaks?
COVID-19 typically begins with symptoms including high temperature and a persistent dry cough. However, many people show no COVID-19 symptoms at all, complicating efforts to identify people infected with the disease and contain its spread.
Those most at risk for experiencing severe cases of the coronavirus include the elderly and those who have serious medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes.
As of October 2020, the virus has reached 35.5 million cases and caused 1.04 million deaths worldwide.
Is there a vaccine?
Not yet. Many potential vaccines for COVID-19 are being studied, and several large clinical trials may report results later this year. If a vaccine is proven safe and effective, it must be approved by national regulators, manufactured to exacting standards, and distributed. WHO is working with partners around the world to help coordinate key steps in this process. Once a safe and effective vaccine is available, WHO will work to facilitate equitable access for the billions of people who will need it.
Fear and panic over the coronavirus may be more prevalent than the actual sickness. However, you must adhere to the guidelines as set out by the WHO as well as any travel restrictions imposed by the government. Make sure to gather your information from trusted and professional sources before cancelling any plans.
Travel is beginning to open up, across the continent once again. There is no reason why you should be weary of travel, if you abide by the recommendations and follow advice. Zimbabwe is open and ready to welcome you, with all the correct measures in place to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.
Finally, remember that if you do choose not to travel during this time, please try and reschedule instead of cancelling your placement. We are here to assist you do that. Help to save tourism and help to save our conservation and community efforts.