Under-pressure govt allows private quarantine centres  

Sindiso Mhlophe

THE government has buckled under pressure and moved to allow returning residents to book into private quarantine centres if they can afford it, pending approval by health inspectors, the Daily News reports.

This comes as 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 quarantine facilities that they have been placed in across the country, which include schools and teachers’ colleges.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet media briefing held recently, Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima said the government had approved the setting up of private quarantine facilities not because of a lack of resources needed to take care of the returnees, but to enable those with resources to access “comfortable facilities”.
“You will realise that we have been given, since the start of the national lockdown and the fight against coronavirus (Covid-19), $125 million as a ministry.
“We may have had some logistical problems as ministry … this weekend due to the large influx of people coming in through Beitbridge and being placed into various quarantine facilities for isolation.
“Because of that, staff from our ministry and the ministry of Health was stretched to a point where some of the returnees had to endure some hours of waiting before they could be processed, but we have not lacked resources to look after them in terms of food and other provisions they may need,” Mavima said.
“There is another element to the returnees. There are returnees who are saying they don’t want to be in public facilities and would rather pay and be in more comfortable facilities and Cabinet has said yes, if there are those people who want to pay for themselves we should set up such facilities but they have to be inspected by the health authorities and approved before taking any returnees.
“But you have to understand that we have some of our citizens who cannot pay for themselves, so the State has to continue providing for them and the resources to look after those who are returning are available,” he added.
Last month, 65 UK returnees refused to be placed at Belvedere Teachers’ College in Harare while demanding to be to be quarantined in hotels, saying they were being forced to share toilets and bathrooms and had no access to running water at the college.
Mavima went on to visit the teachers’ college and declared it as fit to serve as a quarantine facility for the UK
However, another batch of returnees from South Africa currently quarantined at the teachers’ college have also raised similar concerns over poor living conditions, saying this was exposing them to the risk of contracting the deadly coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the government said it was concerned with the mushrooming of briefcase companies that are being involved in the tendering process for Covid-19 supplies.
Speaking at Tuesday’s post-Cabinet media briefing, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said government “will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that such unscrupulous business elements are sifted out.”
Cabinet resolved that reputable and established companies be contracted to supply Covid-19 materials.

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