‘Schools must close over coronavirus’

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THE Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) and Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) are calling on the government to close all schools as a preventive measure against the coronavirus which has claimed thousands of lives globally.

This comes as neighbouring South Africa announced that all schools will be closed from today until after the Easter holidays as a way to halt the spread of the killer virus that has infected 61 people by of end of day on Sunday with the number expected to rise.

While other countries are taking drastic measures ranging from closing their borders and banning big public gatherings, Zimbabwe has remained adamant over closing borders but has insisted on intensifying screening at all border posts.

Speaking to the Daily News, Zimta secretary-general Tapson Nganunu Sibanda said the government should take a leaf from the South African government.

“Schools should close with immediate effect. We should be proactive as a country. Coronavirus is a reality and we are talking about life here. We cannot experiment with peoples’ lives by continuing as if nothing is happening at all,” Sibanda said.

PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou also took a swipe at the government, adding that as much as Zimbabwe has become a supermarket for products from outside and therefore its dependence on its neighbours, there is certainly need to look at the health risk Zimbabwe faces because of people’s movement to neighbouring countries in search of food.

“Any responsible government must ensure that people have enough food locally, in order to minimise movement to other countries, and the security of teachers and pupils must never be compromised,” Zhou said in a statement.

“Poor teachers and pupils cannot afford to remain in schools until coronavirus decimates or chases them from such institutions. If government does not act urgently, teachers may be forced to close schools forthwith.”

Zhou added that Zimbabwean leaders cannot remain idle at a time when there is need to adopt drastic emergence measures, more so given the parlous medical health system and lack of adequate testing kits to detect the virus.

“With the spread of coronavirus in Europe, Africa and southern Africa, it is only logical for the Zimbabwean government to close schools as a preventive measure.”

Meanwhile, the killer virus has surged across the African continent with countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique and Mauritania reporting their first cases.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the global death toll is now more than 5 300, with more than 142 000 confirmed cases.

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