THE Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) has come under fire for turning Chinhoyi Training Centre — used as a COVID-19 quarantine centre — into one of its examination centres.
BY NUNURAI JENA
Students who declined to be named for fear of victimisation yesterday told NewsDay that they were not comfortable with the arrangement as it exposed them to COVID-19 infection since 23 returnees were still housed at the centre.
“We fear for our lives, but there is nothing we can do about it since we were never consulted at first when we were told that examinations are going ahead,” a student said.
“We thought something was being worked out for us to go and write examinations elsewhere at a nearby school, but they decided to risk our lives to write at a quarantine centre,” another student complained.
Contacted for comment, ZOU acting spokesperson Stewart Mandiwanza allayed students’ safety fears, saying the building housing the quarantine inmates was about 100 metres away from the examination rooms.
“Among the many buildings that are there, it is true that one of them is being used as COVID-19 quarantine centre,” Mandiwanza said.
“However, it is important to note that the building that we are using as an examination venue is far away, about 100 metres from the one used as a quarantine centre.”
He added: “The quarantine centre is guarded by police and there are some demarcations such that students writing examinations and those in quarantine will not mix easily.
“It is also important to note that the university took great strides to consult and engage with relevant key stakeholders in view of how lethal COVID-19 disease is.”
A Health ministry official in charge of Chinhoyi quarantine centre, Paradzai Mudzengerere, said ZOU had advised them of plans to use the centre as an examination centre.
“Yes, ZOU wrote us a letter last week in connection with writing examinations at the quarantine centre, but we were still to inspect the place when we heard that the examinations had started,” Mudzengerere said.
Former Health minister Henry Madzorera yesterday rapped government’s lackadaisical approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If the rising COVID-19 cases in quarantine centres are anything to go by, then this government is insensitive to the problems that we have as a country,” Madzorera said.