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Police tighten lockdown regulations

by Staff reporter
19 Jul 2020 at 09:19hrs | Views
POLICE have started tightening lockdown regulations especially in major cities with 1 000 people having been arrested in two days for flouting measures that were put in place to deal with rising cases of Covid-19.

The latest development comes after Government reported that it will announce a review of the lockdown with an idea of tightening the measures to deal with the increase in the number of new infections which have been rising especially in Bulawayo and Harare. Bulawayo has become an epicentre of Covid-19 in the country after recording a total of 447 cases yesterday.

The country has recorded a total of 1 478 cases, with Harare having 408 cases. A total of 25 people have died from Covid-19 across the country.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday revealed that police had started tightening lockdown measures.

He said on Thursday and Friday, police arrested more 1 000 people nationwide for loitering in towns and cities. He said a majority of those arrested were people who were frequenting shebeens mainly in Harare and Bulawayo.

"It is shocking how people are disregarding this national lockdown, since we started tightening it as police we have arrested over 1 000 people who just want to be in town for no apparent reason at all, we have arrested a further 800 people for either not wearing or not putting on masks correctly.

"What people should realise is that this lockdown or the set preventative measures like social distancing are not meant to punish them but to protect them from this deadly pandemic. We have noted that people have relaxed a lot, they are frequenting shebeens where they will be in confined spaces, not even wearing masks or practicing social distancing," said Asst Comm Nyathi.

He expressed concern over the number of border jumpers and escapees from quarantine centres saying they were exposing the public to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said it was worrying that the public continues to harbour escapees from quarantine centres and border jumpers at their homes not realising that they were exposing themselves to the pandemic.

"As of today (Saturday) we have arrested 524 people for crossing into the country illegally. Further, we are concerned with people who are accommodating these people as well as escapees from quarantine centres. To date escapees from quarantine centres stand at 274, of which just 29 have been arrested. The latest escapees are five people who escaped from Khumalo Hotel private quarantine in Bulawayo. What worries us is that some of these people escape after having tested positive for Covid-19 thereby exposing the communities to this pandemic," said Asst Comm Nyathi.

He said security will be upped at all borders and areas suspected to be used by smugglers and border jumpers so as to prevent people getting into the country, avoiding the mandatory quarantine period. Last week, two brothers who escaped from isolation at the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) Hotel after testing positive for Covid-19 infected eight relatives in Madaulo, about 90km east of Beitbridge Town.

The two were among 17 people who escaped from quarantine on Friday last week after returning from South Africa.

In a related matter, the Matobo community last week in Matabeleland South had a Covid-19 scare after a family of South Africa-based Zimbabwean who died of the disease allegedly crossed into the country illegally to attend to the burial of the relative. Villagers had to tip-off authorities to conduct investigations. Confirming the developments, Matobo North Member of Parliament, Edgar Moyo said he had received the report and has alerted police and health officials who are investigating the matter.

"Yes, we received such a report, authorities are, however, in the process of investigating how those who accompanied the body from South Africa got into the country as the border is closed for human traffic, but as for the body it was transported according to the set Covid-19 guidelines, with health officials overseeing the actual burial. However, I am particularly concerned with the high number of border jumpers that are being harboured in the district. I actually had a meeting with the District Development Coordinator, the police and health officials to discuss how we can mitigate this and raise awareness in the district so as to expose these border jumpers," said Moyo.

Cabinet last week announced that lockdown regulations will soon be tightened especially in areas like Bulawayo and Harare which have been identified as hotspots. It was further reported that localised lockdowns will be introduced in other hotspot areas.

Meanwhile, Bulawayo acting provincial medical director, Dr Welcome Mlilo has commended the City Health Department for doing a sterling job in contact tracing, noting that all the new cases were as a result of this exercise.

"All these new cases are because of the thorough contacts tracing being done by the City Health Department, they are ensuring that for every confirmed case they trace all the possible contacts, test them and those that test positive are immediately placed on isolation which is going a long way in our bid to contain this pandemic. We further call upon the public to look at these rising figures especially in Bulawayo and see the need for them to change their attitude towards this pandemic. People are conducting themselves as if this virus is not there, which is worrying," said Dr Mlilo.

In another related incident, Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo has withdrawn all student nurses from wards and sent them back to class after it emerged that they were being exposed to Covid-19 when they do not have enough experience to handle patients. Sources said the student nurses were initially pushed into the deep end after nurses went on strike demanding better salaries. Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya confirmed the development.

"We withdrew all of them (students) and sent them back to the class, so they are no longer in the forefront. Student nurses have their own communities, they live in their hostels so it is no longer patients that are infecting people (students) but people are infecting themselves. It is in the community where they live, buses they board, the churches they go to and the people they interact with and so on," he said.

Prof Ngwenya, however, said he did not have statistics as to how many student nurses have been infected so far, though a number of qualified nurses have tested positive to the virus.

Source - sundaynews

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