Victoria Falls residents fear contracting Covid-19 through bed-hopping truckers

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

VICTORIA FALLS residents are apprehensive over the possibility of contracting coronavirus from Zimbabwean and transiting truck drivers who are hiring sex workers just across the border with Zambia.

It has emerged that some Zimbabwean women, among them, married ones often sneak out in the dead of night to entertain cash splashing truck drivers when they cross into Zimbabwe.

Fears of contracting the virus among Zimbabweans come after Zambian health authorities last week revealed they had recorded 14 new cases involving 10 truck drivers, six of them Zimbabweans, who had entered through Chirundu border post.

Zambia media last week also reported that sex workers and truck drivers contributed to the country’s surge in new cases.

At some point, it was reported that out of 85 new cases in Zambia, 76 were those involving either sex workers or lorry drivers on the northern border with Tanzania, making the two groups risk populations.

Zambia had by Sunday recorded a total of 753 cases.

Zambian health minister Chitalu Chilufya said plans were underway to expand testing to ports of entry after Kenya had blocked 78 truck drivers from entering its territory from Tanzania.

Truck drivers are seen as high-risk groups as they often stop at several towns in transit and in the process, they hire sex workers to entertain them during their long journeys.

On Saturday, while extending the lockdown period, President Mnangagwa said intercity and cross border movement remain banned except for transportation of cargo.

“There shall be mandatory testing of truck drivers and other risk populations,” he said while announcing an indefinite extension of the country’s lockdown period.

Those spoken to in Victoria Falls said they feared for their lives.

“Truck drivers remain an essential service provider according to the country’s regulations but knowing what they do wherever they stop, and judging by reports from Zambia, we are all at risk,” said a resident.

“They are not allowed in and out of their lorries at truck stops but there is no one to enforce that.

“Women have been seen going there at night and some even during the day.”

Some of the drivers are locals who will be meeting their wives while some women, even married ones go to solicit for sex.

According to residents, some of the sex workers are regular entertainers of the drivers who are well informed about their clients’ trips in and out of the country.

Zimbabwe is the gateway into the region as trucks from South Africa pass through the country using Victoria Falls and Chirundu borders.

Zimbabwe’s own coronavirus cases are 46.