Saturday, 8 May 2021


ZIMBABWE has become a shining beacon in its approach to contain Covid-19 after it emerged that more than 400 learners and staff members from different schools in Matabeleland South who recently tested positive for the disease have all recovered, with no hospitalisation or death recorded.

There was an outbreak of Covid-19 cases last month at Sacred Heart Primary and Secondary School in Umzingwane District as well as Embakwe High School in Plumtree.

The development comes as Zimbabwe on Friday reached half-a-million people who have so far received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine. The Ministry of Health and Child Care on Friday reported that Zimbabwe has now recorded 500 422 people who have received the first dose and 140 340 people have received both doses. As at Friday, the country had recorded a total of 38 403 Covid-19 cases since the first case in March last year. A total of 36 041 people have recovered while 1 576 succumbed to the disease.

In addition, on Friday the World Health Organisation announced that it has approved the use of the Chinese developed Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine for emergency, one of the vaccines that Zimbabwe has been using since it started vaccinating its population in February. Of note is also how the country has managed its positive cases with the recovery rate hovering above 93 percent.

Matabeleland South Provincial Medical Director Dr Rudo Chikodzore told Sunday News yesterday that all the cases that were reported in schools in the province have been contained.

“At Embakwe High School we had a total of 156 cases including one staff member. There were no hospitalisations and no deaths recorded. All cases were put in isolation and discharged. Currently there are no active cases at the school,” she said.

Dr Chikodzore said the last of those isolated at the three schools in Umzingwane was released a fortnight ago.

“We currently don’t have active cases there in schools. Those who tested positive were de-isolated two weeks ago,” she said.

Despite Covid-19 outbreaks in various schools around the country, Primary and Secondary Education Ministry director of communication and advocacy Mr Taungana Ndoro said schools should not be characterised as epicentres as they imported the virus from surrounding communities.

“The issue here is that schools are being used as barometers because they are usually the first to detect Covid-19 cases. This is because they follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and whenever there is a case it is detected quickly. We are therefore the ones that alert authorities to the fact that there is Covid-19 in the community,” he said.

Mr Ndoro said the schools were a victim of the success of their testing and tracing mechanisms, as it meant that they detected and reported cases promptly.

“The communities around these schools do not detect Covid-19 as quickly as schools do because they don’t follow any SOPs. If they did then cases would also be noted quicker. As things stand in those communities there would be people with the virus but ignorant of it because they would not have been tested. So, when they pass it on to children who then get tested, it creates the impression that the pupils are the source of infections when that is not the case,” he said.

Mr Ndoro said the ministry was constantly monitoring schools to make sure that they were observing Covid-19 SOPs. Mr Ndoro also said the training of Provincial Educational Health Focal teams was now complete, with the teams expected to aid in the containment of the virus in schools around the country.

“The Provincial Educational Health Focal teams were trained last week, so I expect that they are now on the ground. We anticipate that this will help greatly in detecting and containing the spread of the virus,” he said.

The efforts by Zimbabwe in containing Covid-19 have not gone unnoticed with other countries now scrambling to copy how the Government has been able to manage the situation. According to the Sowetan, a South African publication, some South Africans were flocking to Zimbabwe to receive their Covid-19 vaccines. President Mnangagwa last month said visitors can receive their Covid-19 jabs in Zimbabwe for a fee.

“The Covid-19 vaccine rollout is slow in South Africa, and my extended family in Cape Town needed to get vaccinated. We made a decision to bring them to Zimbabwe to get vaccinated. The private clinics in Zimbabwe are charging foreign nationals US$70 for both jabs, we are happy to pay and it sounds reasonable,” Mr Grant Evans is quoted as saying in the paper. Sunday News


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