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COVID-19: Experts criticise govt

Local News
In a statement yesterday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said 581 suspects were arrested at the weekend for illegally crossing the border.


HEALTH experts have criticised government over its failure to enforce COVID-19 quarantine measures that it recently imposed on travellers coming into the country.

Their concerns come at a time when police expressed concern over rampant illegal border crossing that was taking place at Beitbridge, Nyamapanda and Chirundu border posts.

In a statement yesterday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said 581 suspects were arrested at the weekend for illegally crossing the border.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police and other security services arrested 581 suspects on December 18, 2021 for illegally crossing the country’s border into Zimbabwe without following the laid out customs and excise formalities. 557 arrests were made at Beitbridge Border Post, 11 from Rimai area and 7 from Nyamapanda Border Post, 4 from Zona area and two (2) from Chirundu Border Post,” Nyathi said.

On November 30, government said all returning residents and visitors to the country must undergo PCR testing and quarantine at their own cost for 10 days. The regulations announced by the government followed the detection of the Omicron variant in South Africa and Botswana.

There are also reports that 19 COVID-19 positive deportees from South Africa escaped from a Beitbridge quarantine centre last Friday after bribing their way out.

Health analysts yesterday expressed concern over lack of thorough scrutiny of visitors coming into the country and the security at quarantine centres.

As of Saturday, Zimbabwe’s seven-day cycle average was at 3 500 new COVID-19 infections per day. It has so far recorded three deaths from the virus.

Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said several people were skipping quarantine at entry points, which meant that regulations were not being effectively observed.

“Our borders are porous and people skip the borders without being monitored and properly screened, thereby putting their own families, relatives and friends at the risk of contracting COVID-19 infections.

“Zimbabwe should learn something from what is happening in some Western countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom where they put strict monitoring measures because of an increase in new infections, hospitalisation and deaths,” Rusike said.

“Our land borders are very porous and a lot of people sneak through the borders without being properly screened thereby putting the lives of their own families, relatives and friends at risk of COVID-19 infections.

“Zimbabwe should learn from Western countries such as France, Germany and the UK which are strengthening their COVID-19 monitoring measures prompted by spikes in COVID-19-related deaths, hospitalisation and infections,” Rusike said.

He said proper enforcement of quarantine rules would protect the country from being overwhelmed by the fourth wave.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, Ruth Labode said the country’s ports of entry were porous.

“Quarantine centres at ports of entry serve no purpose as travellers come into the country only with negative PCR tests, and we do not retest them,” Labode said.

Chief COVID-19 co-ordinator Agnes Mahomva responded to NewsDay questions by sending a copy of Statutory Instrument 267 of 2021 which speaks to COVID-19 containment and treatment measures.

Senior resident medical officer at Mpilo Hospital, Misheck Ruwende said the festive season had proven to be fertile ground for the continued spread of the virus due to massive travelling.

“It remains important that our people remain vigilant, it is almost impossible to stop people from carrying on with their festivities, but we have to be responsible in order to live,” Ruwende said.

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