Murwira explains silence on reports NUST students tested positive for Covid-19

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By Anna Chibamu

HIGHER and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira has dismissed media reports some three National University of Science and Technology (NUST) students had tested positive to Covid-19.

He was giving oral evidence before parliament’s Higher and Tertiary Education Committee on Monday.

MPs questioned why the minister had chosen to keep the matter a “secret”.

However, Murwira said during the period alleged by the reports, there were no students at the Bulawayo learning institution as the country was under lockdown.

“NUST had no students at its university campus during the period alleged in the media.

“NUST opened for final year students on the 3rd of June, 2020 and to date, no student on campus has tested positive for Covid-19.

“At no point had the university campus accommodated students prior to the 3rd of June, 2020.

“We are also guided by the Health Act. At that time, we took it as press report, by that time we were closed. So, what we are talking about is when we are open.

“Statutory Instrument 110 of 2020 means that at no point did the Health ministry write a letter to us telling us which individuals had been affected,” said Murwira.

MDC Alliance Mutasa South MP Regai Tsunga claimed the matter was a public interest issue that should be adequately explained before it could cause panic among students, parents and university staff.

“I responded to the publication. Universities were closed. I was not too sure about how to answer the question from the journalist,” Murwira said.

“We cannot spread rumours about Covid-19 and there is also the issue of privacy of people. One cannot just disclose my ailment. You might go to jail for that. There is an issue of morality.

“A closed university with students who are said to be Covid-19 positive. Where are they? It was very difficult to make stories out of this kind of issue perpetuating a rumour.

“In order to respect people, we refrain from commenting further than just saying universities are closed. From now on, we will be able to tell because universities are now open.

“As far as we are concerned, the NUST story was speculative. It was interesting but we thought we could answer it nicely by silence. Sometimes there is no need to cause panic.

“We were careful on commenting on issues that we have no evidence on.”