With Zimbabwe’s tourism industry reeling from Covid-19 lockdown losses, hotels and lodges have been permitted to open as luxury quarantine centres.
Announcing the decision on Sunday, health minister Obadiah Moyo said “guests” would be closely monitored and tested every eight days for Covid-19.
The ministry of health and childcare, which liaised with the ministry of tourism, vetted the facilities. The first six that were approved last week include Bronte Hotel, a four-star facility in Harare. In Victoria Falls, the first luxury quarantine centre was the five-star Phezulu Lodge.
Overseas returnees have been at loggerheads with the government for putting them in “inhumane” lockdown centres countrywide.
“We are housed with criminals and basic provisions are lacking. If they have seen it fit for those that can afford an alternative service to look for them, it’s a noble idea,” said a UK returnee.
According to the state run Herald, last week alone 23 people escaped from quarantine centres. There are fears that those who escape or illegally return to Zimbabwe could be the source of unexplained local infections.
“The issue of border jumping has come to our attention and it is the duty of every resident to report such. We urge residents to notify us whenever they receive border-jumping relatives, as anyone who comes into the country must undergo isolation, according to law,” said Bulawayo health services director Dr Edwin Sibanda on Sunday.
This month alone, 2,000 Zimbabweans have returned from South Africa. Of that number, 527 are deportees – mostly criminals.
A further 2,600 have notified the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria about their intention to return home, while 6,000 have said they are in need of food aid.
The number of returnees to Zimbabwe from all over the world stands at 4,000.
Zimbabwe has tested 35,112 people and has seen 56 positive Covid-19 cases, 25 recoveries and four deaths since the first case was detected on March 20.
Most of the new cases have been traced back to South Africa and Botswana.
“Five cases tested positive for Covid-19. These include one male returnee from Botswana who is in isolation in Gweru, three Malawian immigrants who were intercepted by security authorities and [are] in isolation in Beitbridge while awaiting deportation to Malawi, and one female from Harare,” reads a government statement issued on Sunday.