AS the world is gradually opening and medical and pharmaceutical experts are working tirelessly to come up with a vaccine and probably a cure for the COVID-19, international and domestic travel to various tourism destinations is set to resume soon.
By Michael Gwarisa
Preparing for the festive season starts now and in most countries especially in the developed world, planning started as early as January 2020. However, with the coming in of COVID-19, most traveling plans were shelved and for other countries, traveling could resume as late as 2021 December.
Zimbabwe is by no doubt a destination of choice for many especially those who seek to escape from the hustles and bustles of city life. From the majestic and roaring Victoria Falls, to the steamy and misty Eastern Highlands, the ancient stone city of Great Zimbabwe and the world’s largest man-made dame, the Kariba dam to mention just a few, Zimbabwe offers some of the worlds serene and beautiful tourism sites one could ever imagine.
However, before you commit to any visiting plan, here are a few health measures you should consider before embarking on that trip. This also applies to local and domestic tourists planning to escape to Zimbabwe’s wild side soon.
COVID-19 PCR Test Certificate:
Zimbabwe just like every other country in the world is taking serious COVID-19 prevention measures for both local and foreign travelers. The country’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been put in place for the reopening of international and some domestic airports. The National Guidelines for Aviation Safety and Security have been developed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) to ensure the safety of both the travelers and airport staff. These are additional to temperature testing, social distancing, sanitization, and mandatory wearing of masks. All travelers will be required to have a PCR COVID-19 Clearance Certificate issued by a recognized facility within 48 hours from the date of departure, in line with WHO guidelines. The country has also set up PCR testing facilities at all ports of entry including the resort town’s Victoria Falls Airport to test visitors.
Take Effective Malaria Prophylaxes and other Mosquito Bites Prevention Measures:
Zimbabwe is a Malaria high risk country and the risk is high throughout the year but highest from November to June, in areas below 1200m including the Zambesi Valley and Victoria Falls. There is low to no risk in Harare and Bulawayo and the district of Matabeleland South. Malaria precautions are essential especially in tourism facilities in the Zambazi Valley which is also a high-risk Malaria area. These include Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba, Hwange National Park, Binga among others. The low veld is also a high-risk Malaria area and has places like Buffalo Range, Gonarezhou National Park and others. Masvingo is also a high-risk area and has places like the Great Zimbabwe monuments and Lake Kyle. When visiting high risk Malaria zones, it is always advisable to take a very effective Malaria propheylaxes such as Mefloquine, doxycycline, and atovaquone-proguanil which appear to be equally effective at reducing the risk of malaria for short-term travelers and are similar with regard to their risk of serious side effects. Travelers are also encouraged to wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts between dusk and dawn. Travelers should use mosquito repellents and sleep under an insecticide treated mosquito net to avoid mosquito bites.
Wear Long Sleeved Clothes In The Tsetse Fly Infested Zambezi Valley
You like seeing Buffalos right? Well many different species of tsetse fly feed on buffalo, particularly the morsitans group. These animals are therefore at high risk of contracting African trypanosomiasis (Sleeping sickness) according to experts. In Zimbabwe, the Zambezi valley plays host to various species of Buffalos hence the high prevalence of the disease in these parts of the country. There has not been any proven prevention vaccine or drug for prophylaxis against African trypanosomiasis. However, there are certain measures one can take to reduce the risk of getting bitten and infected by the Tsetse fly. According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), people in these high-risk areas should Wear protective clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and pants. Wear neutral-colored clothing and avoid floral clothing which attract flies and other insects. Inspect vehicles for tsetse flies before entering. Avoid bushes. Use insect repellant.
Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate
If you are coming from a Yellow Fever High risk area, it is encouraged that you get vaccinated before visiting Zimbabwe as the certificate proving you have been vaccinated may be required upon arrival at the entry points. A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is only required for travelers 9 months of age and older coming from – or who are in airport transit for more than 12 hours within – a country with risk of Yellow Fever transmission.
Drink Water From Beverage Sealed Containers
Even though Zimbabwe does not have cases of active Cholera at the moment, the country has had recurring Cholera and Typhoid outbreaks in the past with the latest outbreaks having been recorded in 2018 in the capital Harare and other small towns. It is always advisable that travelers exercise extreme caution especially when it comes to what they eat or drink. According to the CDC, travelers should choose food and drinks carefully, only eat foods that are cooked and served hot, avoid food that has been sitting on a buffet, eat raw fruits and vegetables only if you have washed them in clean water or peeled them, only drink beverages from factory-sealed containers, avoid ice because it may have been made from unclean water, drink pasteurized milk and wash hands carefully.