Doctors not happy over late testing of returnees


Sindiso Mhlophe

THE Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has expressed concern over the delayed testing of returnees in quarantine centres, saying that this could be driving the increase in the number of coronavirus (Covid-19) positive cases among them.

This comes as Zimbabwe’s confirmed Covid-19 cases have shot to 237, with 31 recoveries and four deaths, and most of the cases have been recorded from returnees from abroad.

“The ZADHR is worried about delayed testing of returnees on arrival at quarantine facilities. We have received reports that at the Girls High quarantine centre where a group of 96 returnees including pregnant women and an infant, who were first quarantined at Harare Polytechnic College, on the 10th of May 2020 were not tested despite that some individuals clearly exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

“The returnees were finally tested on the 24th of May 2020 and most of them were not exhibiting signs or symptoms of illness. Results returned four days later on 28 May 2020 and at least 35 of the returnees had tested positive to Covid-19 and were taken to Wilkins Hospital,” ZADHR said.

“The delay in testing means that some of the returnees might be getting infected in the quarantine centres given that they are living in poor conditions characterised by non-adherence to social distancing, among others. This could explain the increasing number of positive cases among the returnees.

“As such the government must ensure that it expedites the testing process and upgrades the quarantine facilities to ensure that the numbers of cases do not continue increasing,” ZADHR said.

Health and Child Care minister Obidiah Moyo said the government had set up mechanisms in quarantine centres to ensure that people do not infect each other.

“You can never tell if people are getting infected at quarantine centres but what is relevant is that we are ensuring that as they come in the returnees are given proper advice on how there should be social distancing. They are aware that they are in the quarantine centres because of Covid-19 and therefore they have to make sure that they do not end up being infected.

“As far as who has infected who, we are much more concerned about who has tested negative or positive. Yes we educate them, but we want to know at the end of the day who has the virus or not and immediately we take action with regards to those who are positive by taking them to isolation centres where they get clinical care,” Moyo said.

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