Govt allows returnees private tests  

Nokuthaba Nkomo
©️  Government has given returnees in Covid-19 quarantine facilities the option to have their Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests done at authorised private laboratories.
This comes as the government has been failing to do PCR tests on time due to reagents and swabs shortages, thereby delaying the release of returnees from quarantine facilities.
Under normal circumstances, returnees are supposed to have their PCR tests done on day eight after arrival in the country but they are reportedly having to wait for up to 16 days without being tested.
Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo yesterday told the Daily News that returnees who are unhappy with the government’s slow screening process can now have their tests done at private laboratories for a fee.
“What we are saying is that for those who want to go home early, if you want your results to come quicker, you can go to a private laboratory where you have to meet their demands. They require you to pay.
“As government we are doing everything in our power to clear the backlog that we have,” Moyo said.
Moyo conceded at a post-Cabinet briefing last Thursday that the government was struggling to cope with the high number of returnees from other countries.
“The demand has gone up because of the returnees as well. We have to test them at the border on day one… we have to test them on day eight and also on day 21.
“For the statistics this is good but at the same time we also want to be able to test the general population,” he added.
Over 3 000 returnees have come into the country and are being placed in mandatory quarantine as part of measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), with some complaining over the poor state of the facilities that they have been placed in across the country.
Private laboratories are reportedly charging about US$65 for PCR tests, which is beyond the reach of many.
“Returnees quarantined at Belvedere Teachers College in Harare last Saturday staged a protest over the high fees being demanded by private laboratories.
One of the returnees, who chose to remain anonymous, told the Daily News that it was unfair for the government to expect them pay exorbitant fees to private laboratories.
 “I have been at Belvedere for the past 16 days and I was not tested on day eight.
“It’s unfair because it is increasingly looking likely I could remain in quarantine for a longer time because I don’t have the money to go to a private laboratory for testing.
“The government should put its house in order so that we can be able to go home after the period prescribed by the World Health Organisation,” she said.


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