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Zimbabwe denies lockdown in central city where variant found

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — A top Zimbabwean official has said the government has not imposed a strict lockdown on the central city of Kwekwe because the COVID-19 variant dominant in India has been detected there.

Larry Mavhima, the minister for the Midlands province, said a notice announcing the restrictions issued by the health ministry’s COVID-19 task force was incorrect.

Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga, who is also Zimbabwe’s vice president, announced earlier this week that the variant had been found in Kwekwe, a city of more than 100,000.

Zimbabwe has generally eased restrictions nationwide after the rate of infections started slowing after a devastating resurgence in December and January.

The southern African country of 15 million people has recorded 38,635 confirmed cases, including 1,585 deaths, according to health ministry figures.

The country has vaccinated 615,296 people with a first dose of vaccines, mainly the Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, while 252,100 had received a second dose, according to official figures.

Farai Mutsaka, The Associated Press