THE Zimbabwe Consulate in Cape Town, South Africa, is set to repatriate fellow countrymen based in the country who are finding the going tough owing to the extension of lockdown restrictions to fight the spread of COVID-19.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU/RICHARD MUPONDE
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week extended the lockdown by two weeks, as the neighbouring country battles a surge of COVID-19 cases now at 2 272 with 27 deaths, the highest on the continent.
Recently, Botswana deported hundreds of Zimbabweans while some voluntarily returned to the country and they have been quarantined at Plumtree High School and other centres in Bulawayo.
The Zimbabwe Consulate in Cape Town invited fellow countrymen based in that country to register with the office for repatriation.
“The Consulate of Zimbabwe in Cape Town would like to know if there are any Zimbabwean nationals in distress during this lockdown period and are willing to be repatriated home…NB. Provide the following: Full names and surname, passport number/ ID number, Current Home Address S.A., Phone number, Home Address in Zimbabwe,” a notice by the Consulate read.
At the time of going to print, the consulate had not responded to Southern Eye questions inquiring about the number of Zimbabweans who had registered for voluntary repatriation.
Zimbabwe has so far registered 17 confirmed cases and three deaths, but there is concern from some quarters that the figures are underestimated owing to the low numbers of people tested for the disease to date. About 604 tests have been conducted to date in a population of over 14 million people.
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All along, COVID-19 testing was being done at the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory in Harare, delaying release of the results. However, Mpilo Hospital has begun testing for the disease with six samples, three of which came out positive.
Mpilo Central Hospital in conjunction with the National University of Science and Technology’s (Nust) Applied Genetic Testing Centre (AGTC) is testing samples from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo provinces.
The three people who tested positive for coronavirus are women, one of whom is a direct contact to a 79-year-old Bulawayo man who died at the Catholic-run Matei Dei Hospital on April 4. The other is from Qalisa Retirement Village where the man was staying when his illness started, while the third one has no history of travelling or direct contact to a known COVID-19 patient. The Health ministry confirmed the new cases recorded in the country’ s second biggest city, bringing the tally of confirmed cases in the city to four and one death. They are all self-isolating at home.
“Case # 15 is a 34- year- old female resident of Bulawayo. She has no recent history of travel or known contact with a confirmed case. She was referred by a local rapid response team after she was found with a fever on routine screening. As part of intensified surveillance, samples were collected for testing. She is stable , with mild disease and is self-isolating at home,” read the statement.
The ministry said case #16 is a 52-year-old female who is a direct contact of the late case 11.
The third woman, a 79-year- old, was said to be staying at Qalisa Retirement Village where the late case 11 was staying when he fell ill but reportedly denied any direct contact with the late.
Health officials have traced 47 people in Bulawayo who got in contact with the 79-year-old man who succumbed to COVID-19 on April 4, with authorities warning of the possibility of more positive cases being recorded in the city