and Sindiso Mhlophe
©️ THERE is growing concern over the rising positive cases of the lethal coronavirus in the country, which is attributed to returning residents — prompting authorities to scale up surveillance at quarantine centres, the Daily News reports.
This comes as a number of returning residents are said to be running away from quarantine centres around the country without completing the prescribed mandatory time in isolation, to allow authorities to manage the disease in the event that it manifests itself among the returnees.
The director for Epidemiology and Disease Control in the ministry of Health and Child Care, Portia Manangazira, told the Daily News yesterday that authorities were worried about the rising cases of coronavirus in the country.
“We are getting more confirmed cases from returnees … and it’s a cause for concern. We appeal to the returnees to take heed of the public health control measures and stay in quarantine centres for their sake and that of their loved ones.
“We appreciate the help we are getting from the security services to ensure that people do not evade quarantine,” Manangazira told the Daily News.
She also admitted that there was overcrowding at some of the quarantine centres, but said authorities were working flat out to decongest such centres by establishing more facilities countrywide.
“The fact that some quarantine centres are overcrowded is a cause for concern, but we are doing all we can to decongest them by decentralising operations to provinces.
“We are expecting to receive more returnees from around the globe, but our message is that let us keep ourselves safe by following the public health recommendations,”Manangazira added.
“We also appeal to all Zimbabweans to remain vigilant, maintaining social distance and taking all precautionary measures.
“With the coming of winter, we have also had to increase our influenza surveillance systems which, under normal circumstances, begin in May and end in September.
“Now we are trying to identify influenza hotspots in the provinces, and screening people from there,” Manangazira told the Daily News further.
Available information shows that four of the eight new corona cases in the country are of returnees — three from the United Kingdom and one from Zambia.
This comes as cases of Covid-19 have risen sharply in the last few days, climbing to 46 after almost two weeks without any new ones reported.
The rising infections also come as the government has been criticised for failing to embark on an expanded programme of testing of people for the virus to ascertain the prevalence of the lethal disease among local communities.
So far, Zimbabwe has recorded four deaths from the 46 people who have tested positive for Covid-19.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended the corona national lockdown indefinitely over the weekend, citing the need to maintain low infections in the country.
Meanwhile, the secretary general of the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA), Aaron Musara, warned yesterday that truck drivers could be among the major sources of the spread of the pandemic in the country.
“What is happening with the truck drivers is a cause for concern and it will compound the situation that has been made worse by the fact that we are having an increase in positive cases from returnees.
“If not properly managed, there is a high risk that the numbers will increase to beyond manageable levels because history tells us that the Spanish flu epidemic that struck Rhodesia in 1918 was introduced into the country by truck drivers and passengers travelling from South Africa by train.
“It spread quickly in all the urban centres before making its way into the districts.
“That is why we say government should put in place measures to ensure that the drivers are tested at stopovers first, before they continue with their journeys, otherwise we are in serious trouble,” Musara told the Daily News.
“At the moment what is happening at borders is that the truck drivers are merely having their temperature checked, and that is not enough,” he added.
Ordinary Zimbabweans who spoke to the Daily News yesterday also expressed fears that there could be more returnees who made their way back into the country using illegal entry points and without being tested.
“We are in a very dangerous situation as a country because we know that it is not every returnee who is using the normal, official entry points back into the country.
“My feeling is we are far from safe. We are not sure how many have found their way back in the country through illegal means and these people pose a real danger in the communities we live.
“That is why there have been calls for government to widen its testing. But I am not convinced that is happening. We just pray to God to save us and our families,” said Steward Muchefa.
Talent Chanakira also said most returning Zimbabweans were finding it difficult to be accepted without being stigmatised when they left quarantine centres.
“Whether they are coming from a quarantine centre or not, people will be suspicious, especially with the news that some are fleeing the centres.
“The solution lies in government carrying out mass tests,” Chanakira told the Daily News.
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