Quarantine escapees in foiled bid to go shopping in Mozambique

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By Staff Reporter

Mutare: Three returnees who recently escaped from Marymount Teachers College quarantine centre, tried to illegally enter Mozambique again for shopping but were returned back by authorities in the neighbouring country.

This was revealed this past week by Manicaland provincial minister Ellen Gwaradzimba.

The minister said one of the escapees who was later quarantined at Mutare Teachers College had admitted during questioning by police that they escaped and crossed into Mozambique to buy groceries.

The other two are still at large.

Said the minister, “One of the returnees who escaped but was later located at Mutare Teachers College quarantine centre is the one who later provided information and leads as to who these people are.

“What he said is that this group of three was on a mission to go to Mozambique to buy some items as illegal border crossers.

“They were apprehended and chased back by the Mozambican authorities before they reached their destination to conduct their business.

“Luckily, we can say that they did not have any contact with people in Mozambique.”

Minister Gwaradzimba was speaking on the sidelines of a recent Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) donation handover by Econet Wireless Group to Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital.

The minister said the trio escaped on the day it arrived on May 23 through the back of the dormitories which had no perimeter fence.

“On the day they arrived is the day they escaped before they were tested. We derive comfort from the fact that they had not interacted with anyone while in Mozambique,” she said.

She called on health authorities to thoroughly vet all returning residents before they are quarantined.

“As authorities, the lessons we drew from this incident is the need for thorough vetting of returnees before they are quarantined.

“Our police and military forces can double-check on their (returnees) next of kin to verify whether indeed the information supplied is correct,” said the minister.

She also highlighted the need for thorough inspection of the quarantine facilities to ensure there was adequate security.

“We don’t expect recurrence of such incidences,” Gwaradzimba said.

“The danger is if the returnees escape, they are going to join their families and interact with some members of the public and pose danger not just to people of Manicaland and their families but to the whole people of Zimbabwe.

“To us, we regard these people as criminal elements who are selfish because they are thinking of making money while disregarding the health and safety of the rest of the population.

“Our security forces are looking for these criminals so that they are brought to book.

“For real, the law is not going to be kind with such people who run away from quarantine centres because they are supposed to be tested so that their status is known. If they test positive, they are sent to isolation and treatment centres.”