HomeNewsCross-border traders call for massive COVID-19 tests

Cross-border traders call for massive COVID-19 tests

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CROSS border traders have urged the government to ensure that people are tested for coronavirus in the respective areas to avoid a situation where those positive to the virus can spread it on their way to borders where they will be screened.

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA

Some laboratories recently announced plans to set up testing facilities at border areas to clear people who want to travel out of the country.

But Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association of Zimbabwe (ZCBA) president, Killer Zivhu, while welcoming the idea as noble, warned that containing the disease would be difficult if people travel long distances to the border areas without knowing their status.

He said the association has members in areas such as Kariba and Mt Darwin who frequently travel to countries such as South Africa via Beitbridge and Botswana via Plumtree to buy goods for resell.

“The advantage of one getting tested before they travel is that in the event the person is found to be positive, he or she will immediately go into self-isolation,” Zivhu said.

“On the other hand, if a person travels to Beitbridge or Plumtree without knowing their status, it means that he or she will be spreading the disease all the way to the borders.

“At the border, they will be made to go back to where they have come from. Again they will be spreading COVID-19, thereby undoing all the efforts President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government are doing to combat the spread of coronavirus.”

Zivhu added that border areas also risk becoming a breeding ground of COVID-19 and crime if people flock there to get tested and made to wait for several hours or days to get their results.

“Under the cross border association facility, our members will be tested at the border only on their return to Zimbabwe and they will be able to know the results when they get home. They will only sell their wares once they are cleared otherwise they will be self-isolating,” he said.

The former Chivi South legislator said the ZCBA wanted to work well with Health minister and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and all other organisations tasked with containing the spread of coronavirus.

He said the association has identified and partnered several medical surgeries in all parts of the country including growth points, rural business centres as well as cities and towns for the collection of samples to send for COVID-19 screening.

“When the results come out, the person will receive a message telling them to proceed to the border where they will collect their COVID-19 certificates.  Along the way, they will be encouraged to continue observing COVID-19 regulations such as maintaining social distance and putting on face masks and sanitising their hands,” he said.

Zivhu said several thousands of people who used to rely on cross border trading before the outbreak of COVID-19 were now struggling putting food on their tables.

“If coronavirus spreads, it means another lockdown is coming and if it comes, it means borders will be closed again and our sources of livelihood would be cut again.”

The cross border association also has an arrangement with some laboratories to test its members at half of the market rates.

Follow Harriet on Twitter @harrietchikand1

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