Sunday, 19 December 2021

PUPILS TO QUARANTINE AT BOARDING SCHOOLS

ALL learners in boarding schools who tested positive for Covid-19 have remained quarantined at their various institutions of learning despite the closing of schools last Friday as part of measures to prevent the spread of the virus in communities.

So far, more than 100 schools countrywide have been hit by new infections with some schools in Bulawayo having been affected.

Some private schools closed early to prevent the spread of Covid-19 following the outbreak of the Omicron variant which has spiked the fourth wave. Other schools ended up resorting to online learning in the run-up to the schools closing day last Friday.

The country has over the last two weeks seen a 472 percent surge in new Covid-19 cases.

The last genomic sequencing has linked all the cases to the highly transmissible new Omicron variant. As of Saturday, Zimbabwe had recorded 191 673 confirmed cases, including 135 755 recoveries and 4 782 deaths.

Recently, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education communications and advocacy director, Mr Taungana Ndoro revealed that over 100 schools had recorded Covid-19 cases countrywide.

The Education Ministry is working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to contain the situation through enforcing the World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols.

Ahead of the schools closing day last Friday, the Ministry of Health and Child Care directed health authorities in all the country’s provinces to ensure that all pupils at boarding schools who caught the virus must remain quarantined at their learning institutions as others went home for the holidays.

Bulawayo Provincial Medical Director, Dr Maphios Siamuchembu confirmed the development.

He said the Ministry of Health and Child Care directed school authorities to make sure that learners in isolation must remain in school until they are cleared to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“As schools closed, those children who are in isolation because they have tested positive for Covid-19 remain in their current isolation facilities until the end of their isolation period. My office regrets any inconvenience caused, but we cannot deliberately allow infected people to go around spreading the virus,” he said.

Dr Siamuchembu said the city has over 70 pupils affected by the directive.

He appealed to well-wishers to assist the affected schools with donations as their budgets were limited to keep and feed students beyond the closing day.

Dr Siamuchembu said one of the schools, Luveve High School does not have piped water and needs stakeholders’ support.

“I might as well take the opportunity to appeal to the Bulawayo community for assistance with resources for these pupils. The schools do not have a budget to keep and feed the pupils,” he said.

“Besides Luveve, another affected school is Townsend which has 66 girls and two cooks in quarantine.”

Dr Siamuchembu said well-wishers can approach the affected schools with donations.

Last Tuesday, President Mnangagwa extended the Covid-19 Level Two national lockdown by a further two weeks, citing the rapid rise in infections driven by the new Omicron variant.

The President also moderately tightened the lockdown by scaling down Government activities, enforcing masks for all private and public commuters and asking businesses to implement earlier festive season shutdowns than usual.

In her post Cabinet briefing last week, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Government was concerned with the recent jump in daily Covid-19 infections.

The rise in Covid-19 infections comes at a time when Zimbabwe, among other nations, has started to record Omicron cases which the World Health Organisation (WHO) described as a variant of concern given its perceived risks.

To date, over four million people have been vaccinated against Covid-19, with 3 999 170 having received their first dose and 3 013 385 receiving their second dose as at Wednesday.

In November last year, more than 180 Covid-19 cases were recorded at John Tallach in Ntabazinduna, Matabeleland North, the highest that a single school has recorded since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe. Chronicle

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