BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
POLICE have launched investigations into 331 blank vaccination cards that went missing from various public health centres amid fears they could have been sold to people evading vaccination.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said 250 COVID-19 vaccination cards went missing on Wednesday at Cheshuro Rural Health Centre in Gutu, Masvingo province.
Eighteen cards also went missing from Hwange’s St Patrick’s Hospital yesterday while a Marondera nurse appeared in court yesterday over 63 missing vaccination cards.
“The ZRP is investigating circumstances in which 250 COVID-19 vaccination cards went missing at Cheshuro Rural Health Centre on 25/08/21 at 12 noon. Anyone with information should contact any nearest police station,” Nyathi said.
Demand for vaccination cards has increased after government two weeks ago ordered the reopening of churches to only vaccinated congregants.
Government has also reopened restaurant sit-ins for vaccinated patrons, while barring unvaccinated workers from boarding Public Service Commission buses.
Public and private companies have placed unvaccinated workers on forced leave.
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A 35-year-old nurse at Marondera Provincial Hospital was arrested after he allegedly issued 63 COVID-19 vaccine cards to unvaccinated people.
Kenneth Kuneka is assisting police with investigations after a search conducted at his house led to the recovery of several pharmaceutical drugs.
The police confirmed on their Twitter account that Kuneka was arrested for selling vaccination cards.
“On 22/08/21, police in Marondera arrested Kenneth Kuneka (35) of Marondera General Hospital for issuing out COVID-19 vaccination cards to unvaccinated people,” the tweet read.
“The arrest also led to the recovery an assortment of medical drugs and equipment at his residence. Investigations are in progress,” the tweet added.
According a memo gleaned by NewsDay, a senior officer at the medical institution discovered that names of vaccinated people recorded on a particular day were not tallying with what was recorded the following morning.
The officer discovered that the names had surpassed those they had vaccinated at the close of day and investigations led to some of the beneficiaries implicating the nurse.
Police went to Kuneka’s residence and discovered some drugs as well as vaccination cards.
At St Patrick’s Hospital, 18 cards, serial numbers 00211779-96, were reportedly stolen from a batch that was given to the hospital under the government COVID-19 vaccination exercise.
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Inspector Glory Banda confirmed the development.
“I can confirm that some vaccination cards were stolen from St Patrick’s Hospital in Hwange and the matter is still under investigation,” Banda said.
“No arrests have been made yet and we are appealing to the public to assist with information that can lead to the arrest of the criminals and recovery of cards.”
He said Tatenda Maposa, a nurse, signed for the cards and left them on the table while she attended to other business with the door open and found the cards missing when she returned.
She informed the hospital matron, one Ms S Ncube and a police report was made at ZRP Hwange.
Follow Jairos on Twitter @jairossaunyama