Fresh Covid-19 outbreak hits boarding schools

At least 212 children have tested positive to Covid-19 at two boarding schools in Zimbabwe since Friday as the government appealed for help to combat the disease.

Information secretary Nick Mangwana yesterday said 120 learners at St David’s Bonda High School in Manicaland had tested positive to Covid-19, leading to the postponement of the children’s party to celebrate Independence Day.

Health ministry officials in the province were not available to give more details about the outbreak.

At Embakwe High School in Matabeleland South, 91 people, including students and teachers, tested positive following mass testing on Friday.

The outbreak at Embakwe in Plumtree followed the detection of Covid-19 cases at Sacred Heart Girls High School and Mzingwane High School in Umzingwane late last month.

Matabeleland South provincial medical director Rudo Chikodzere said the Embakwe cases were detected after a pupil visited a clinic exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms.

“It is a boarding school; the testing came after a pupil fell sick and was taken to the clinic,” Chikodzere told The Standard yesterday.

“The pupil, who is a day scholar, tested positive to the virus.

“The whole class, who formed the pupil’s immediate contacts, were tested and then the whole school.

“This is where 91 cases were confirmed out of about 500 pupils.”

Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema appealed to parents and guardians to inform school heads of any developments or signs that a child is not well.

“The ministry is also appealing and urging parents to report to the school heads of any relatives showing signs of Covid-19,” Mathema said in a statement.

“The fight against Covid-19 in schools, whether boarding or day, requires full participation of parents and all families.

“It is not a crime that we report signs of Covid-19. It is the duty of every family to work with school heads and the health officials.”

He added: “No school alone can fight Covid-19. Please let us all join hands in the fight against Covid-19 in schools.

“No family should spread Covid-19 because of fear of reporting signs among family members and in reporting you are protecting your child, your family, your neighbours and the whole country.”

Schools reopened last month after they were closed for over two months following the outbreak of a deadly Covid-19 second wave in January.

The government was accused of failing to prepare schools adequately for reopening with most institutions struggling to enforce World Health Organisation regulations to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Last week the government said boarders would not be allowed to go home for the long weekend as part of efforts to minimise the spread of the virus.

Zimbabwe first recorded Covid-19 cases in March last year and as of Friday the country has recorded 37 534 cases with 34 981 recoveries and 1 551 deaths.

Source – the standard