Zimbabwe’s cases of COVID-19 more than doubled from Tuesday’s 63 to 132, the sharpest daily increase in the spread of the disease since the government started collating figures.
By Phyllis Mbanje
Information ministry permanent secretary, Nick Mangwana announced the surge on Twitter.
“Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 positive cases have now spiked to 132,” he tweeted. “The 76 new cases have been recorded in Beitbridge, Masvingo and Harare.”
All new cases, except one, have been registered among returnees, mainly from South Africa and Botswana. Only one case is local transmission, Mangwana continued.
On Wednesday morning, the government announced that the cases had increased from 56 to 63 after seven returnees from South Africa tested positive for the disease.
There were also unconfirmed reports that about 12 cases had been recorded at Masvingo quarantine centre made up of mainly people from South Africa, which is now a hotspot in Africa after recording over 24 000 cases by late Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear if these new cases included the rumoured ones from Masvingo that forced the government to conduct retesting of the returnees on Monday after reports that 10 of them had tested positive.
Recently Health minister Obadiah Moyo said the country could experience a spike due to the imported cases which include returnees, truck drivers and border jumpers.
Police on Tuesday said about 118 returnees have escaped from quarantine centres across the country, posing a huge risk in the spread of the virulent novel virus.
The current increase puts a damper on plans to reopen schools in about four weeks according to a circular from the education ministry.
Already parents and guardians were divided over the move with many expressing concern over the safety of the children.
The ministry had said it would open the schools in a staggered manner and would start with examination classes.
Teachers unions were also against the re-opening of schools saying their members needed adequate protection as well as a risk allowance.
In its daily update, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) said the new seven cases were detected amongst returnees from South Africa who are currently quarantined in Beitbridge.
To date 38 352 tests have been done with stakeholders calling for a massive screening of communities especially with more relaxed lockdown measures.
However the country has been experiencing severe shortages of testing kits with most facilities having run out of the kits which are critical in assessing the spread of the disease.
The Health ministry has advised members of the public to use masks properly.
“This means wearing masks tightly around the chin and top of the nose, to avoid touching the mask while it is on the face and to immediately remove a mask when it becomes wet,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the region the president of Tanzania Dr John Pombe Magufuli president of Tanzania John Pombe Magufuli has declared a ban on the use of face masks; he noted that use of face masks was causing great concern and anxiety among Tanzanians.