By Matabeleland North Correspondent
THE Covid-19 rapid response team in Matabeleland North has appealed to police to intensify the search for 16 returnees who escaped from Mabhikwa High School and Lupane State University quarantine centres.
The two facilities which are both in Lupane, currently have 54 and 53 returnees respectively.
One woman escaped from LSU early May and has not been found while 26 escaped from Mabhikwa almost two weeks ago.
Of the 26, one woman and 10 males have been arrested and charged with escaping from custody, and the whereabouts of the other 15 remain unknown.
Those who were arrested were found in their respective homesteads in Lusulu and Lubimbi in Binga.
Those on the loose are suspected to be hiding in their respective homes while there are fears some may have given wrong addresses and names to authorities hence locating them is difficult.
Authorities have also expressed concern over the possibility of several people especially in Tsholotsho who illegally entered the country without going through quarantine procedures in the process, putting communities at the risk of contracting coronavirus.
There are concerns in the province about possible breeding of the coronavirus if the escapees are not located especially after three returnees tested positive for Covid-19 at Mabhikwa on Saturday.
Matabeleland North, which was the first province to record a positive case in the country, now has six confirmed cases.
The three patients are isolated at St Luke’s Hospital where they are recovering.
Matabeleland North provincial social welfare office Macnon Chirinzepi said the escapees should be found.
“At the time of the report we had received five returnees at Mosi-oa-Tunya being four males and one female from Namibia through the Victoria Falls Border Post. The cumulative total of returnees that have been received since the inception of the centre now stands at 340 being 187 males and 153 females,” he said.
“No returnees were received at Phezulu Lodge and Lupane State University but Mabhikwa High School quarantine centre received 10 male and 3 female returnees from Botswana.
“The total of absconders is 15 and they are still being searched for by the police of which we call for intensification of the search,” said Chirinzepi in a daily update of the state of quarantine centres as at Sunday afternoon.