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Zimbabweans in US, China to return home

by Staff reporter
19 Jun 2020 at 07:32hrs | Views
THOUSANDS of Zimbabweans, stranded in China, the United States, South Africa and other countries after Covid-19 induced lockdowns have registered with Government to be repatriated as quickly as possible. Reports indicate that Zimbabweans in foreign lands are desperate and some have lost jobs due to measures put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.

On Tuesday, the country received about 281 Zimbabweans from the United States and over 2 000 have come from South Africa. Most of the Covid-19 cases being recorded in the country are of people coming from outside the country.

Addressing the Midlands province Covid-19 provincial taskforce at the Zanu-PF Conference Centre just outside Gweru yesterday, Vice President Kembo Mohadi, who is the chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19 said Government will assist in the repatriation of the Zimbabweans who want to come back home.

"Some are stranded in China, United States and want to come back. In South Africa we have received over 2 200 who have registered with our embassy to come back home and yes they are coming home. The greatest challenge we have is that of returning residents, those coming from South Africa, Botswana and all over the world. On Tuesday we received about 281 Zimbabweans who were in cruise ships in Miami in the United States and we have been receiving such kinds of people from all over the world," said VP Mohadi.

He said the country was putting in place mechanisms to receive anyone who wants to come back home including those from Covid-19 epicentres.

"Our people are coming from epicentres of Covid -19, America is hard hit, UK is hard Hit, China is hard hit, so we had initially converted our schools and colleges into quarantine and isolation centres and with them opening, now we have a problem of where to house them and we are even receiving convicts by the way and they are so unruly, so I'm told. Some of the schools have complained of vandalism," said VP Mohadi.

He said to date, 171 returning residents had absconded from quarantine centres across the country.

"Some of them have been absconding. I think 171 have absconded and only 30 accounted for. When they abscond, they go and mingle with other people in communities and if they are positive, there is higher risk of them infecting others.

"The PMD (Provincial Medical Director for Midlands, Dr Reginald Mhene) said they are sending samples to either Harare or Bulawayo and that takes time.

"If it takes time like that, people start to abscond, people know that they are supposed to be there for 21 days and when time expires, obviously they are tempted to abscond. I am not saying they must do that. People need to know that if they abscond, they are killing other people," said VP Mohadi.

"So, this is one of the greatest challenges we have. Our brothers and sisters in Botswana and South Africa haven't been assisting us because sometimes we find buses with 200 people at the same time at the border and we have to look for transport, accommodation. So, we need alternative accommodation for these people."

He said the system the Government had adopted of classifying returning residents according to their home provinces and putting them into buses to their respective provinces is equally dangerous when they abscond.

"If they abscond and are positive and go to the community, there is a high risk of infecting others. We have discussed the need to test everyone at the point of entry, be it Plumtree, Forbes border post, or Sango first and determine who is positive and not.

"Some have been infecting each other in quarantine centres. So, we want to give provinces people who would have been tested with those receiving them knowing if they are positive or not and house them accordingly," said VP Mohadi.

He said Government had to rope in medical personnel from the uniformed forces after it became clear that the Ministry of Health and Child Care was getting overwhelmed.

"We are in a war situation. The Ministry of Health and Child Care was getting overwhelmed because we were not getting the results we would have wanted. At one time, they told us we would test about 1 000 per day and had given us a target of 40 000 people nationally and that was not to be.

"We then had to rope in our security services, the medical personnel had to join them so that we test as many people as possible, especially the returning residents. But we are still not happy with the numbers, the numbers are very low and we need to test more.

"The reason why we are not testing more is we don't have enough laboratories and enough testing equipment. The PCR's are few, the GeneXpert machines are few. If they are adequate, they don't have consumables like cartridges.

"We don't have them in numbers we would want. Even PCR themselves, they need primus so that each and every centre can test," said VP Mohadi.

Source - chroncile

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