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Zambia reopens border with Tanzania to cargo after COVID-19 closure

Zambia reopened its Nakonde border with Tanzania on Friday for cargo after a five-day closure of the key transit point for copper and cobalt exports and fuel imports, but people were still not allowed to cross, a provincial minister told Reuters.

President Edgar Lungu had 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,” said Malozo Sichone, the minister of Zambia’s Muchinga province, in response to a request for comment.

He added citizens were, however, still barred from crossing the border.

Sichone had told Reuters on Wednesday that talks were ongoing with Tanzania 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.

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