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'Returning citizens were providing fake Covid-19 certificates,' claims Mangwana

by Staff reporter
03 Dec 2021 at 05:21hrs | Views
RECENTLY announced quarantine measures in the wake of a new Covid-19 variant by President Mnangagwa are meant to protect the lives of Zimbabweans and ensure that the country does not witness grim deaths as was the case last year, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said.

Early this week, President Mnangagwa announced that all returning residents and visitors will undergo PCR testing, and will be quarantined at their own cost for days recommended by the World Health Organisation, even if they present negative PCR test results from elsewhere.

Although Zimbabwe is yet to record any case of the Omicron variant, cases have in the past few weeks been rising as Zimbabweans based in the diaspora make way home for the festive season.

"And as a caring Government, measures have been put in place to ensure that there is no repeat of last year's grim and grave scenario where the contagion caused hundreds of deaths," Mr Mangwana said.

"The idea is not to punish citizens. We do empathise with those citizens who have a critical need to come into the country at this critical point in time, but we have a duty of care for every other citizen and we have to make sure that our system is not overwhelmed by disease, therefore we have put filters and safeguards to protect the rest of the citizens," said Mr Mangwana.

Giving the example of last year when teeming returnees congested the Beitbridge Border Post, spending days on long queues, Mr Mangwana said the spike in infections that was witnessed during last festive season was partly because of that and should not be repeated.

"We can't as a responsible Government have a repeat of that. I know this affects the economy and we are aware that the economy is affected by any lockdown. We have tried to make sure that we continue to operate but our critical responsibility as Government is to save the lives of Zimbabweans not the economy. The economy is there to service the lives of people who are alive, not the dead. Our duty is to protect you."

Mr Mangwana said the move to tighten security was informed by a realisation that many returning citizens were providing fake Covid-19 certificates and also because even if a person was tested before travelling from a foreign country, there is always the possibility of contracting the disease while travelling.

"So if you come here we will test you because it might be still in the incubation period, we will quarantine you and test you at particular intervals to make sure that you are safe."  

The set of measures to quarantine, test on arrival, which are not new, are also part of a filter that will ensure that people do not travel with the disease and spread it locally.

The Permanent Secretary said the Government is identifying hotels and lodges where those who will be quarantined with security provided while those who will be deported will be placed in vocational training centres and other colleges.

"The State will pay for the security, but for your upkeep it's you, your full board, your bedding and food, that's you and there is nothing peculiar about this rule by the way because that is what was in operation in the UK and other countries.

"What we have decided as Government is that you can't expect the Fiscus to pick the tub for your desire to join your family at a critical time like this because we have other budgetary priorities to cater for. We would rather use that money to build bridges to make sure that the Disaster Management System is in place because of the rainfall, to make sure that people have inputs rather than to pay for people to stay in hotels. If you can afford to fly into this country at this critical time then you surely can afford to pay for the hotel stay," said Mr Mangwana.

Permanent Secretary Mangwana added that it is more prudent for citizens in the Diaspora to wait for the current wave, which has seen several countries impose various measures to curb its spread, and visit when normalcy returns.

"We are not forcing people to come home but you are choosing to come home and we are saying if you choose that, it is not the Government that is supposed to pay for you. Other African countries like Kenya were doing that."

These, he said are part of the rules that will be observed as the Government leaves nothing to chance on the backdrop of last year's Covid-19 spike in infections and accompanying deaths which were felt more devastating in the aftermath of the festive season.

Source - The Herald