School closed as 100 pupils test positive for Covid-19

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Blessings Mashaya

SENIOR STAFF WRITER

mashayab@dailynews.co.zw

THE government is concerned at the rising numbers of Covid-19 and might soon reintroduce a strict lockdown after 100 pupils from John Tallach Secondary School in Ntabazinduna tested positive.

This comes as health and education authorities had closed down the school in Matabeleland North last week after it initially recorded five positive cases among its students.

The high infection rate at John Tallach has raised fears among parents, who were reluctant to send their children back to schools amid the pandemic.

Addressing a post-Cabinet media briefing last night in the capital, Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is also the chairperson of the national Covid-19 taskforce, allayed these fears.

“The situation at John Tallach is under control,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said.

With Zimbabwe now recording an increase in infections, the government is weighing its options before it can introduce another strict lockdown similar to the one in March this year.

Last week, the country recorded 294 new cases compared to 109 in the previous week.

“We are taking measures, but we react to scientific recommendations and for now Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces have become hotspots. 

“We do appreciate the recommendation of a localised lockdown, but the decision is done based on scientific evidence,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said. 

Speaking during the same briefing, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the government was closely following developments at all schools around the country.

“To ensure that schools do not become flashpoints for the spread of Covid-19, Cabinet resolved that where Covid-19 cases are suspected in schools without adequate testing facilities, these schools should be immediately closed to allow for testing of all pupils and only those who test negative return to school. 

“Schools with adequate facilities may continue with lessons while testing proceeds and those who test positive are excluded,” Mutsvangwa said.

Meanwhile, one of the reasons the country has been recording an increase in infections is due to porous borders.

As a result, Muchinguri-Kashiri said Zimbabwe’s ministers and security agents would soon meet their South African counterparts with a view to increasing patrols along the Beitbridge border.

Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema also said the government was going to give every student an opportunity to write examinations despite the resurgence of Covid-19.

Commenting on the industrial action by teachers, Mutsvangwa said attendance had remained below optimal level, with the overall teacher attendance for the week standing at 30 percent, compared to 25,7 percent last week.

The Cabinet also considered and approved the Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill, 2020.

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