The government released 285 returnees in quarantine centres yesterday after testing negative for Covid-19, with 115 expected to get their test results tomorrow.
The continued quarantining of returning residents is instrumental in controlling the spread of Covid-19 as the overwhelming majority of infected Zimbabweans were infected outside the country with only a small minority being infected within the community.
Yesterday, another six patients, all returning Zimbabweans, were confirmed as infected, bringing the cumulative total of confirmed infections to 320, although 49 of these have now been confirmed as recovered with the death toll still at four.
So far, 1 400 returning citizens and residents have been released from quarantine centres after being found free of infection.
In the latest batch of releases, returnees that were quarantined at Harare Polytechnic (95), Queen Elizabeth (37), Prince Edward (80) and Roosevelt (73) were discharged yesterday after testing negative to Covid-19. But in these groups, another 56 who were found to be infected in tests have to wait in isolation hospitals until they are able to go home as uninfected recovered cases.
Those that tested positive from all the quarantine facilities have since been taken to Parirenyatwa isolation centre (2), Wilkins (40) and Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital (14). Ninety returnees quarantined at Mabelreign Girls High School, Belvedere Technical College (5) and 20 at Prince Edward Boys High, will know their fate today, with those testing positive set to be moved to isolation facilities while those testing negative go home.
Speaking on the sidelines of a handover ceremony of one of the ambulances to Harare Metropolitan Province yesterday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said the exercise will cascade to all other provinces of the country.
The ambulances were donated by CBZ Holdings to Government through President Mnangagwa recently. Dr Moyo said they decision to release the returnees was designed to clear all quarantine facilities and pave way for new returnees who will be tested using the antigen based test, PCR, on their first day in line with new guidelines.
The new guidelines stipulate that returnees shall be tested using PCR on day one before they are even taken for compulsory quarantine, with those who test positive immediately taken to isolation facilities while those who test negative will go into mandatory quarantine facilities.
A second test is done on day eight for those in quarantine facilities, again, using the PCR test from which those positive would be taken to an isolation facility with those negative discharged and allowed to complete their 21-days of quarantine at home. However, those discharged will be followed up on with another PCR test on day 21 before they are certified free of Covid-19.
“The whole process of testing and discharging has been done and this has been done very efficiently and we have set the parameters on how it should be done. There are now guidelines on how we should be working with people in the quarantine areas. They are not there to be disadvantaged, they are there to be assisted as we follow the regulations as published,” said Dr Moyo, who was accompanied by is deputy Dr John Mangwiro.
He said laboratories were now geared to ensure there was no backlog while clinicians have been advised not to hold onto results. Government is working on ensuring there is a doctor to assist returnees with other ailments at every quarantine centre. Dr Moyo said all provinces were expected to do the same going forward and have since been given test kits and consumables to effect the new measure.
A number of returnees had gone beyond eight days in mandatory quarantine owing to a shortage of test kits to determine their eligibility for discharge prompting criticism from human rights pressure groups.
Meanwhile, Dr Moyo handed over one of the ambulances donated by CBZ through President Mnangagwa recently. Receiving the ambulance on behalf of Harare Metropolitan Province, Chitungwiza acting town clerk Dr Tonderai Kasu said the ambulance would be useful.
“We are very much grateful for the boost to our resources. This ambulance will go a long way in the fight against Covid 19 in our province,” said Dr Kasu.