By Bulawayo Correspondent
AN acute shortage of COVID-19 test kits is hampering the completion of screening on 456 Zimbabweans in Bulawayo who were recently deported from Botswana soon after the start of the neighbouring country’s lockdown.
Some of the deportees are quarantined at the Bulawayo Polytechnic College while the other group which includes women and children is housed at the United College for Education.
Addressing stakeholders in Bulawayo, Social Welfare Deputy Minister, Lovemore Matuke said 193 of the returnees had tested negative and the remainder were still waiting for the arrival of test kits to undergo screening.
“I was informed that Bulawayo Polytechnic is housing 256 people from Botswana and I am happy to say 94 were tested and are negative. We will try and have more test kits, but I understand another 42 are set to be tested once we have enough resources so that they can join their families,” said Matuke.
The deputy minister encouraged those released from isolation centres to stay at home for two weeks as a precautionary measure to stop them from contracting the highly infectious and deadly disease.
“As the 94 return to their homes, they will also stay at home and comply with the mandatory two weeks extension of the country’s lockdown until May 3,” he said.
Some of the deportees who were caught up in the lockdown dragnet are shoppers and former prisoners who had recently been pardoned by the Botswana President, Mokgweetsi Masisi. Most had no proper documentation.
The deputy minister also confirmed the government was facing logistical nightmares to repatriate the deportees to their various destinations across the country.
“The next step is to try to provide transport as it is the responsibility of the government to transport those brothers and sisters back to their original homes. One is going to Tsholotsho, the other to Zvimba, others to Masvingo so the officials are now seized with those arrangements to make sure we provide enough transport,” he said.
Apart from transport, the minister also said that the government is also obliged to give the deportees pocket allowance so that they buy food along the way.