Court orders improvements at isolation centres

The High Court has ordered government to improve conditions at quarantine and isolation centres in the country as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, with 222 cases recorded as of Wednesday, most of them at the holding centres.

By Garikai Tunhira

Justice Philda Muzofa yesterday ordered Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo to ensure that returning residents and citizens are tested on the first, eighth and 21st days of their stay in quarantine.

She also provisionally ruled that returning residents and citizens at quarantine facilities are housed in such a manner that social and physical distancing is maintained at all times until release.

To that end, Moyo must provide segregated, sanitary and hygienic conditions with proper control and protection for all persons in quarantine.

Justice Muzofa also ordered government to liaise with appropriate local authorities where the quarantine facilities are situated to ensure that they have running water at all times, and functional, adequate ablution and bathing facilities.

The Health and Child Care minister was ordered to provide inmates with hand sanitisers and soaps at all times, regularly disinfect the facilities with approved disinfectants as well as make sure that the quarantine facilities are suitable for human habitation.

The ruling came after the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) took government to court on Monday to institute comprehensive investigations into the cause of a spike in coronavirus cases at the Girls High School, a quarantine facility in Harare, following tests conducted on May 24.

“The country has in the last few days witnessed rapid increase in positive cases of COVID-19 especially in quarantine centres with the country recording 64 cases on May 25, 61 of which were in quarantine centres and another 17 on May 27 again were from quarantine centres,” ZADHR secretary Norman Matara had submitted in his affidavit.

“The 35 or so who tested positive at Girls High facility had been staying at the facility from May 12 and were only tested on May 24, 15 days later after their first tests were carried out at the border.

“At Gweru Polytechnic College another quarantine facility, it has been reported that returnees quarantined there complained of lack of social distancing raising fears that this could fuel an outbreak of COVID-19 illness.”
ZADHR was represented by Jeremiah Bamu and Andrew Makoni of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

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