LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia reopened its Nakonde border with Tanzania on Friday for cargo after a five-day closure of the transit point for copper and cobalt exports and fuel imports, but people were not allowed to cross, a provincial minister told Reuters.
President Edgar Lungu shut the border on Sunday after the town of Nakonde recorded 76 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, the highest number registered by Africa’s No. 2 copper producer in a day.
“Trucks from both sides have been moving, starting with those destined for Tanzania,” Malozo Sichone, the minister of Zambia’s Muchinga province, said in response to a request for comment.
He added citizens were still barred from crossing the border.
Zambia’s Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said the lockdown imposed on Nakonde town was lifted on Thursday and Friday, but restrictions on movement would come back into force on Saturday to allow for mass screening.
Zambia’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 668 on Friday, with 7 deaths, the minister told a media briefing.
Sichone had said on Wednesday that talks were ongoing with Tanzania over the border closure, and an agreement could be reached soon.
A mining industry executive said the border had opened for copper exports from noon (1000 GMT) on Friday. A logistics official said: “We have trucks that have already crossed.”
The minister previously said priority would be given to trucks bringing essential goods such as fuel, medical supplies, and food into Zambia.
Reporting by Chris Mfula in Lusaka and Helen Reid in Johannesburg; Editing by Mark Potter and Barbara Lewis