Calls for schools to close escalate



Mugove Tafirenyika 

AUTHORITIES are seriously worried about the rising cases of Covid-19 infections in the education sector, amid growing calls for the temporary closure of schools and colleges to curb the spread of the lethal disease, the Daily News reports.

This comes after Chinhoyi High School in Mashonaland West became the latest institution yesterday to be hit by the global pandemic, after 18 learners tested positive for the virus.

It also comes as Matopo High School in Matabeleland South has reported that 10 students have been infected by the disease, which has killed and infected millions around the world.

Mashonaland West provincial medical officer, Gift Masotsha, confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that 18 more students had tested positive for coronavirus at Chinhoyi High School.

“I can confirm that we have had 18 more positive cases at the school, putting the total number of cases at 19 so far.

“We have had to quarantine the learners in one of the hostels. Those who are supposed to write examinations and are positive will do so in a room separate to those who have not tested positive.

“We cannot isolate them because the isolation centre we have here only accommodates seven to eight people — hence we came up with this alternative,” Masotsha told the Daily News.

This comes as health experts have warned that the government could struggle to contain a second wave of Covid-19 if schools are not closed immediately.

Yesterday, the government admitted that it was very worried about the rising Covid-19 cases, especially at boarding schools.

“Cabinet notes that a number of Covid-19 positive cases were reported at learning institutions, following the full reopening of schools.

“The nation is advised that measures have been put in place to strengthen protective and preventative measures in boarding school environments.

“The ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, with technical support from the ministry of Health and Child Care, is organising logistics for implementing the following practical measures to minimise the recurrence of the John Tallach School experience in other boarding schools; reviewing the maximum carrying capacity of all boarding hostels, conducting detailed inspection of boarding facilities and targeted training of hostel matrons, boarding masters and kitchen staff,” Acting Information minister Mangaliso Ndlovu told a post-Cabinet briefing.

“Cabinet reiterates that the lockdown and curfew measures previously announced are still subsisting. It should be noted that public bars, night clubs, beer halls, casinos, betting shops and theatres are still not permitted to operate.

“The nation is informed that gatherings are still limited to two persons, while authorised events such as weddings and church congregations are limited to 50 and 100 persons, respectively.

“The enforcement of lockdown measures will be intensified henceforth,” Ndlovu said further.

“It should be emphasised that where there is non-compliance, the law enforcement agencies will not hesitate to enforce the penalties prescribed,” he added.

Ndlovu said Cabinet had also been informed by the chairperson of the ad-hoc inter-ministerial Covid-19 taskforce, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, that as at November 20, the country had recorded a cumulative 9 120 confirmed coronavirus cases, 8 229 recoveries and 265 deaths.

It was also reported that 7 650 of the confirmed cases were local transmissions, with new cases for week 46 standing at 281 — compared to 294 recorded in week 45.

“With the festive season fast approaching, the public is advised to take all the necessary precautions to prevent a surge in Covid-19 positive cases.

“Those visiting the country should undergo Covid-19 tests in their countries of origin and bring valid Covid-19 negative results obtained within 48 hours of departure in line with WHO protocols,” Ndlovu also said.

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