‘Community isolation centres needed for stable, covid positive patients ’
MUTARE’s porous Forbes Border Post remains a great concern in the wake of the increase in returning Zimbabwean residents coming through Mozambique, City of Mutare’s health services director, Dr Anthony Mutara has said.
Dr Mutara said this during a media briefing organised by the Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum (ZINEF) in Mutare last week Thursday, where he warned against complacency by Mutare residents in the ongoing fight against the global coronavirus pandemic.
“The province is generally safe because of the measures we have in place to reduce the rate of transmission, but we feel there may be areas that need improvement at our border areas, where some people can illegally enter or exit through unauthorized points without being tested for covid-19, which is a high risk,” said Dr Mutara.
As of yesterday (Tuesday), Mozambique currently has 1012 positive coronavirus cases, eight deaths and 277 recoveries but there is also reportedly low testing of people. This makes it a high risk area if the Forbes Border is porous with people capable of entering and exiting willy-nilly for various reasons.
He said the relaxed lockdown measures under Level 2 were making people less vigilant of the life threatening virus. “Our major challenges haven’t changed, where people may perceive that this is not real and measures they are taking are not adequate…So my message to the community is that we need to remain very vigilant and not relax, despite having low transmission our numbers are going up,” said the Mutare municipality health service director.
Adding, “If you walk to our market places, shops and banks you will notice a lot of people are not practicing social distancing and people will have masks on them but will not be wearing the masks. So there is really need for our communities to improve their perception in terms of risk to transmitting and contracting the virus.”
Dr Mutara added that the current covid-19 measures are supposed to ensure people live symbiotically with the global pandemic, so there is need to remain compliant to control the virus at low transmission levels.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba, the provincial epidemiology and disease control director, Dr Munyaradzi Mukuzunga said they were currently facing an acute shortage of test cartridges, which is forcing them to send samples to Harare at the moment.
“We have the capacity to diagnose PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing at Mutare Provincial Hospital but the challenge at the moment is of test cartridges so at the moment all covid-19 samples are being sent to Harare. This affects turnaround time to test people and quickly get results. Instead of a day or two to give people their test results, it is taking more days because of this,” he said.
Dr Mukuzunga said as of last week Thursday Manicaland had 109 returnees that came through Forbes Border Post who were all placed under quarantine. Manicaland currently has 18 covid-19 positive cases and four recoveries. He said all the covid positive cases in Manicaland were from returning residents, adding that there were 11 infected people who were transferred to their provinces of origin, making it a total of 29 positive cases initially tested in Manicaland.
He added that there is need for more quarantine and isolation centres in Manicaland after recently dropping Mutare Teachers College, Mary Mount Teachers College and Mutare Polytechnic College which were being used as quarantine centres. He said all three institutions have since been disinfected to pave way for the opening of tertiary institutions this month.
With the exception of Rowa Vocational Training Centre which was already in use as a quarantine centre, Dr Mukuzunga said they have chosen Magamba Vocational College, Forestry Industrial Training Centre, Toronto Centre and Vumba Youth Training Centres as substitutes. He added that they are however considering turning Rowa into an isolation centre citing that at the moment there was no community isolation centre in Manicaland.
According to Dr Mukuzunga quarantine centres were for housing returning Zimbabweans or any people who are suspected to be covid-19 infected until testing is done, while isolation centres will be for people who would have been diagnosed covid-19 positive, but not in critical condition for hospitalization.
“We currently have two positive cases at Rowa, who we are still deciding where to move to, but we are also currently considering turning Rowa into an isolation centre. Before, the Government direction was that even those that were positive could actually go into self-isolation at home, but the direction now is to have self-isolation centres for covid positive patients who are stable and do not necessarily need hospitalization. So we are making frantic efforts to ensure we have community isolation centres for positive cases who are stable in Manicaland,” he said.
Dr Mukuzunga also urged citizens to report all people they see that they feel would have snuck into the country without passing through the quarantine centres for PCR testing. He said people should know that the number of days under mandatory quarantine have since been reduced to eight days for those that test negative.
“All residents returning to Zimbabwe are subject to a 21-day quarantine period at a government-approved facility, but we are now able to do PCR tests after eight days then those that test negative can spend the remainder of their 21 days at home in self-isolation, so this is a positive for those that dread 21 days in a quarantine centre,” said Dr Mukuzunga.
Zimbabwe as of yesterday (Tuesday) has 734 covid positive cases recorded, seven deaths and 197 recoveries. On the other hand, in neighbouring South Africa where the virus transmission is reportedly high, there are 206 721 covid positive cases, 3310 confirmed deaths and 97 648 recoveries.