Tuesday, 23 June 2020

TWO COVID-19 POSITIVE MALAWIANS ESCAPE FROM QUARANTINE CENTRE


TWO more Malawian border jumpers who tested positive to Covid-19 at the Beitbridge Quarantine and Isolation Centre located at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) Hotel escaped yesterday.

This comes after two other Malawian nationals who tested positive for the virus during profiling and screening at the same facility escaped last month.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the development yesterday. He, however, could not disclose their identities.
“Two Malawian nationals escaped from NSSA Hotel after testing positive for Covid-19 virus. The cumulative number for escapees is now 184 while those arrested remain at 28. We continue to urge members of the public to report suspected escapees or those who are entering the country through undesignated entry points evading the Covid-19 screening process at their nearest police station or call 0242 70361 or WhatsApp 0712 800 197,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.

A total of 914 people were arrested on Sunday for violating Covid-19 lockdown regulations, bringing the total number of arrests countrywide to 75 134.

Police have said following the escapes, they have put tight security at the isolation centre and on the boundary of the main quarantine centre and are being assisted by the Zimbabwe National Army, the Support Unit and the Duty Uniform Branch (DUB).

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has red flagged quarantine escapees, especially those that have tested positive for the virus, as they risk transmitting the virus in communities. 

Matabeleland South provincial medical Director Dr Chido Chikodzore yesterday said Covid-19 patients in her province were asymptomatic and not in need of clinical care. She urged communities not to harbour quarantine absconders.

“Our Covid-19 patients are asymptomatic. We, however, need to work together as health and communities to ensure that Covid-19 is contained and manageable. We urge communities to report people who have absconded from quarantine and isolation centres,” she said.

Public Health Activist and Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director Dr Itai Rusike yesterday said while health ethics were being followed, it was important to put public health first in terms of naming patients who escape from quarantine and isolation centres.

“The escapees from the quarantine centres, especially those that have tested positive to Covid-19, become a danger to the society hence the need for them to be accountable for their actions. The Ministry of Health and Child Care must be guided by the Public Health Act on handling and dealing with the issue of the Beitbridge inmates that escaped from the quarantine centre,” said Dr Rusike.

According to the Public Health Act, an individual loses their rights if they are deliberately posing a danger to the rest of society, as in the case of Covid-19 patients escaping from a quarantine centre and going into the community.

He said every Zimbabwean had the responsibility to ensure that communities were safe and that those infected with the virus were at places where they could not infect others with the virus. 

“The Covid-19 cases are escalating exponentially amid a very weak security system at the quarantine centres. If we don’t address the actual problem of security lapses, we stand a very high chance of absolute devastation from Covid-19 as a country. Everyone must play their role especially those bringing in the infection into the country. It’s sad that those in transit are now being allowed to also escape from quarantine centres thereby putting the health of so many people at risk including the health of people in their destination countries. The security forces must confiscate all the travel documents before one is booked into a quarantine or isolation centre as a precaution to stop them from escaping,” said Dr Rusike.

Meanwhile, Asst Comm Nyathi also extended condolences to families of four members of the security services comprising three police officers and a member of the Zimbabwe National Army who died in an accident while on their way to Covid-19 work deployments.

The officers died on the spot while six others were injured on Sunday afternoon along the Harare-Shamva Road when the accident happened.

“We extend condolences to four members of the security services comprising three police officers and a member of the Zimbabwe National Army who perished while on their way to Covid-19 deployments, in a fatal road accident at the 106km peg along the Harare-Shamva Road on Sunday at about 16:30 hours. We wish a speedy recovery to the six injured members,” said Asst Commissioner Nyathi. Chronicle

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