A man waves Union flags from a small car as he drives past Brexit supporters gathering in Parliament Square, near the Houses of Parliament in central London on January 31, 2020 on the day that the UK formally leaves the European Union. - Britain on January 31 ends almost half a century of integration with its closest neighbours and leaves the European Union, starting a new -- but still uncertain -- chapter in its long history. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)
A man waves Union flags from a small car as he drives past Brexit supporters gathering in Parliament Square, near the Houses of Parliament in central London on January 31, 2020 on the day that the UK formally leaves the European Union. - Britain on January 31 ends almost half a century of integration with its closest neighbours and leaves the European Union, starting a new -- but still uncertain -- chapter in its long history. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

The British government has announced that it will temporarily withdraw a number of members of staff from its Harare Embassy because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), local media reported Friday.

While acknowledging that Zimbabwean authorities had declared the pandemic a national disaster and that authorities had introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said it would be withdrawing some of embassy officials.

“Given the rapidly changing situation in Zimbabwe, we are temporarily withdrawing a limited number of UK staff and their dependents from our embassy. The embassy will continue to carry out essential work including providing 24/7 consular assistance and support to British people in Zimbabwe,” the FCO said in the advisory.

There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe but the pandemic has hit South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Eswatini in the Southern Africa region. The FCO also advised its citizens against all but essential international travel as countries responded to the pandemic, including restricting travel and border movement. “Any country or area may restrict travel without notice,” the FCO said in its “Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice”

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