Stern Test For Health System As Returnees Dodge Covid Protocols

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By Clayton Shereni, Masvingo Correspondent

THE Zimbabwe health care system will this festive season as thousands of Zimbabweans living in neigbouring countries flock back home for the long holiday.

It is mandatory for travellers visiting Zimbabwe should quarantine for 10 days and also produce a negative Covid-19 certificate.

However, at some entry points, these rules and regulations are being ignored and some returnees and law enforcement agents are engaging in corrupt activities.

Corruption is rife at the Beitbridge Border Post, which borders Zimbabwe and South Africa, where returnees are flocking into the country without undergoing quarantine and getting tested for Covid-19.

The Zimbabweans are allegedly bribing law enforcers to avoid going into quarantine.

One returnee from South Africa who is visiting his family in Masvingo told it was easy to get into the country without the required Covid-19 requirements.

“The bus crews are making the transactions between the returnees and government officials. You give the bus crew Rand 200, and leave everything to them because they know the channel for passengers to evade quarantine,” the returnee said.

Health Ministry public relations officer Donald Mujiri could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone number was not available.

However, Covid-19 national task force chief coordinator Agnes Mahomva said they were working flat out to ensure Covid-19 protocols are followed at ports of entry.

“In terms of those who are coming in our borders, it is very clear that there is need to tighten up and that is why you saw government issuing out Statutory Instrument 267,” she said.

“Those are the measures that have been put in place to say let’s really tighten up and discourage unnecessary travel that will help decongest our ports of entry and hence also enables our enforcement agencies to be able to strengthen their enforcement because there will be no congestion at those places.”

Mahomva added: “We don’t wait for the festive season, or for numbers to go up, this is a continuous process. I am about to go into a meeting to review our reports and come up with measures that might help us tighten and strengthen our response, that is what we do on a day to day basis. We don’t wait for big occasions to act”

Zimbabwe is witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases as the country struggles to cope with the fourth wave.

During the 2020 festive season, Zimbabwe witnessed an escalation of cases and with the new Omicron variant detected in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, it is a huge task for the health care system to deal with the spontaneous rise in cases.