The Sunday News
UMZINGWANE district yesterday received four people who illegally sneaked into the country to attend a funeral. They were reported by the community and are now quarantined at Esikhoveni Training Institute. The community took responsibility for its own safety.”
The above statement was made by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana, on his official Twitter social media account last week. The revelations came amid fears that people who were illegally crossing into the country were putting lives of ordinary citizens in danger as they were not being subjected to any screening or testing for Covid-19 upon their arrival.
Our sister paper, Chronicle also reported last week that cross-border dealers were illegally crossing into South Africa and back into Zimbabwe using illegal crossing points in Beitbridge. When people embark on such activities, they put anyone they come into contact with in danger of being infected with coronavirus. We say so because when they use illegal crossing points, they are not subjected to any form of screening or testing for coronavirus, and in the event that they carry the virus, then anyone around them is at risk, and the virus can easily spread into various communities.
We therefore applaud villagers at the Matabeleland South district of Umzingwane for doing the right thing by handing over those who had broken the law to authorities. Border jumping is a crime in any case. It is everyone’s duty to be vigilant all the time and not entertain anyone who has come into the country using illegal means.
The country last Wednesday recorded 76 new Covid-19 cases, mostly people returning from South Africa and Botswana, which brought the total number of confirmed cases to 132. The new cases were recorded in Beitbridge, Masvingo and Harare provinces and only one case was due to local transmission. This should remind people that they should co-operate with the Government and report anyone who has illegally entered the country.
There is also concern over the number of people who escape from quarantine centres, with the number reported to be at 120 by last week. In that regard, the Government then tightened security at all Covid-19 quarantine centres.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi last Wednesday revealed that 120 people had escaped from various isolation centres throughout the country since the onset of the national lockdown.
Matabeleland South provincial medical director Dr Rudo Chikodzore said there was risk of Covid-19 infections in communities due to people who were escaping from quarantine centres.
“There is great risk in the communities. When people abscond from quarantine centres before their eight days are up, they would not have taken their last test before being released and this poses challenges as they may go around infecting others without knowing. It takes an incubation period of up to eight days before the virus can be detected in the body and it takes a few days to a week for someone to develop symptoms. So, the people that are absconding and going to communities are the weak link as it may be very difficult to follow up on all their contacts as they may go to shops and other public places,” said Dr Chikodzore.
Asst Comm Nyathi said police were working closely with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure that all who escaped and those who were avoiding immigration formalities are brought to book.
“We urge family members or friends to be conscious before accepting returnees and ensure that they have gone through the Covid-19 vetting process which is co-ordinated by the Ministry of Health and Child Care. The public should report people who are sneaking into suburbs, villages and other public places without following the laid down procedures.
This includes those who are evading the customs and excise entry points and using undesignated points to enter the country,” he said.