Coronavirus: 209 Zim returnees escape from quarantine centres

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At least 209 people have escaped from compulsory quarantine for returning residents in Zimbabwe, state media reported.

The police have managed to arrest 28 people who escaped from quarantine centres countrywide. On Monday, 10 returnees, two of them Covid-19 positive, escaped from quarantine centres countrywide, The Herald reported.

Two Covid-19-positive people escaped from Pangani Training Centre in Matabeleland South, seven escaped from Bulawayo Polytechnic and the 10th escaped from Mushagashe Training Centre in Masvingo.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said police were concerned about the increase in the numbers of escapees.

He said investigations were under way to determine how these people were escaping from the centres.

“We still believe that they are taking advantage of the porous security fences and walls at some of these institutions and other surroundings that don’t have lights.”

Daily newspaper The Chronicle reported that the police and army were worried about the conditions at quarantine centres because they made it easy for the coronavirus to spread.

Superintendent Batsirai Mungwa, who is responsible for police operations in Matabeleland South province, said there was a need to set up proper security systems at quarantine centres.

He said some returnees were taking advantage of security loopholes to escape from quarantine centres.

“There is a huge challenge when it comes to quarantine centres in the province as some don’t have proper security systems such as locks on the doors and perimeter fences. For example, Pangani Training Centre in Filabusi doesn’t have a perimeter fence, which means that those under quarantine can have contact with the community,” he said.

He said it was also difficult to provide enough personnel to guard these areas as police had other duties, such as manning roadblocks.

People returning to Zimbabwe from other countries are first placed under quarantine as part of measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the government has banned churches from conducting services in schools, stating that they are increasing the chances of spreading the virus when schools open later this month.

Churches were recently allowed to resume services albeit under strict conditions, including adherence to physical distancing, use of hand sanitisers, temperature testing and limiting the number of congregants to 50.