Do more testing, government told


Mugove Tafirenyika

and Godknows Matarutse



HEALTH experts have implored authorities to complement the re-introduced coronavirus lockdown measures with heightened testing of as many people as possible, to curb the spiralling infections in the country.

This comes amid soaring deaths and numbers of people infected with Covid-19, which saw the government re-introducing a tough stay-at-home order at the weekend, which kicks in tomorrow.

While complimenting authorities for tightening coronavirus measures, both health experts and teachers told the Daily News yesterday that this needed to be complemented by mass testing of people in communities, as the majority of new infections were local transmissions.

Among the experts who called for this is the president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina), Enock Dongo, who also said more than 200 workers had tested positive for coronavirus at Mpilo Hospital in December.

However,  Mpilo Hospital has since dismissed this as false.

“The measures on their own are inadequate to contain Covid-19 without … widening the scope of testing to include communities that are most likely to be hotspots,” Dongo told the Daily News.

On the other hand, educators urged the government yesterday to suspend examination classes, which are due to resume today.

The president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), Obert Masaraure, said the examinations which began in November last year “have been highly chaotic” and were being “written by unprepared learners” under the management of an “unprepared examination board”.

“It is highly irresponsible to allow this sham process to proceed in the context of Covid-19. We cannot endanger the lives of learners, teachers and communities just to tick boxes.

“The government should work on funding the implementation of standard operating procedures, afford learners adequate learning time and give Zimsec time to prepare. And then, proper examinations may be written in a safe environment,” he said.

The president of the College Lecturers Association, David Dzatsunga, weighed in, saying while the opening of tertiary institutions had been deferred indefinitely, it was not prudent to go ahead with examinations in February.

“The truth of the matter is that we are scared to go back to work now as lecturers, just as the students themselves are also fearful.

“In the meantime the government should concentrate on … testing as many people as possible to establish the prevalence rate of infections in communities, otherwise we are on a wild goose chase,” he told the Daily News.

Meanwhile, the director for Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Portia Manangazira, has said that the government was almost done with its survey to ascertain the extent of infections countrywide.

“We have always been testing people in communities but we will soon be acting on the advice of the Covid-19 prevalence survey that is currently underway nationwide and is almost complete,” Manangazira said.

This comes amid soaring deaths and the rapid spread of the lethal respiratory disease in the country — which killed 29 people in the past week alone, amid a worrying slip in discipline by ordinary Zimbabweans who are increasingly disregarding Covid-19 protocols and safety guidelines.

Announcing the stiffened measures at the weekend, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga — who is also the Health and Child Care minister — said the reversion to tough measures had been necessitated by the alarming deaths and numbers of people who were being infected by the deadly virus.

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