LUSAKA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Zambia has announced a raft of COVID-19 preventive measures aimed at averting a surge in cases in view of a new variant detected in the southern Africa region and a projected fourth wave.
The measures, announced at a press briefing on Sunday night, will come into effect on Tuesday and will initially be in force for one month.
Under the tightened measures, all public servants are to be vaccinated for them to be admitted to work, and entry to all government institutions will require a COVID-19 certificate.
Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo said the decision for all public servants to be vaccinated will be done in consultation with trade unions.
Travelers from high-risk countries will be quarantined for 10 days in designated places at their own cost, she said, adding that surveillance at all points of entry will be heightened.
Masebo said Zambia has not yet recorded any cases of the new Omicron variant, which was reported in some neighboring countries, and that it is important to put in place measures because of regular travels among countries in the region.
The government will open more vaccination centers across the country as it targets to inoculate 2 million eligible people by the end of the year, she said.
Other measures announced include mandatory wearing of face masks in public, and no person will be allowed to enter markets and bus stations without wearing a face mask.
Churches will only be allowed to meet three times a week for only one hour each, while nightclubs, casinos and bars will only be operating four days in a week, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
"The measures have been put in place to avert the risk of a fourth wave and the threat of the new variant, Omicron," Masebo said.
As of Saturday, Nov. 27, Zambia had reported 210,138 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,667 deaths.