By Anna Chibamu
AT LEAST 3 000 more Zimbabweans are expected back home next week amid concerns returning locals have fuelled the sharp rise in cases of Covid-19 in the country.
The returnees, according defence minister and Covid-19 National Taskforce vice chair, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, are coming from different parts of the globe.
Their return would be a further test to the country’s capacity to handle more citizens in its different quarantine centres and, equally, a test on the fragile health system to handle more cases of Covid-19.
“We have quite a number of quarantine centres around the country,” Muchinguri told parliament Wednesday.
“But lately, we have had an influx of returnees from South Africa and Botswana without arrangements with those governments resulting in us becoming incapacitated to handle those people in most cases.
“Next week we are expecting 3 000 returnees around the globe. We have had some challenges yes.”
Government has announced that schools and colleges will no longer be used as quarantine facilities as the country prepares for a phased resumption of education this June after the prolonged Covid-19 induced break.
Churches and some vocational centres will now take the place of schools as quarantine centres.
But while government’s capacity to host thousands of returning citizens could be enough worry, there could be chilling prospects of more imported coronavirus cases coming into the country.
Zimbabwe on Wednesday experienced a shocking jump of from 56 to 132 with most of the new cases linked to returning locals housed in quarantine centres.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri admitted government faced a challenge in handling issues to do with the world pandemic, although the country remains a relatively low risk territory for Covid-19.
The pandemic has devastated the world with 5.6 million confirmed cases globally, coupled with over 350 000 related deaths.
“It is not just about Zimbabwe where we are failing to purchase tests kits,” said the minister.
“The issue of testing remains a necessity. Test kits remain a challenge worldwide.”
The World Bank this week announced a US$7 million rescue package for Zimbabwe to help cope with Covid-19 challenges.