Zimbabwe spike in Covid-19 cases due to squalid conditions in quarantine: Doctors

Some of the Zimbabweans seen here at Beitbridge upon repatriation back home

A REPORT by the Information for Development Trust of Zimbabwe has revealed that on being registered at a quarantine centre, a person receives two blankets, one bar of soap, a toilet roll that is shared by three people, toothpaste that is shared by two people and one disposable mask for the duration of their stay.

This has led the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) to suspect that the recent spike in cases at quarantine centres was partly because of poor living conditions.

Last week Covid-19 cases in the country broke the 200 barrier and accelerated to 279, with 33 recoveries and four deaths as of Saturday.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care noted that more than 90% of the cases were detected in quarantine centres housing returning citizens based in SA, Botswana and the UK.

At Harare’s Polytechnic College — a quarantine centre — on Wednesday there was a demonstration after those in quarantine demanded to be released after staying for more than 21 days. The centre, which houses over 100 people, had 14 returnees from SA testing positive.

The quarantine period in Zimbabwe is 21 days but because of hunger and squalid conditions some people have chosen to escape.

In total 150 people have escaped from quarantine centres. Only 23 have so far been apprehended and fined R150 (ZW$500).

Yesterday, government released a wanted persons list of individuals that escaped from quarantine centres as the country’s Covid-19 positive cases inch closer to 300.

The list has 48 people, some of whom gave fake addresses.

Information Ministry Permanent Secretary Nick Mangwana said because they broke the law they should be apprehended.

“Absconding from a quarantine centre is breaking the law,” he said.