By Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu
Fifteen Ethiopian illegal immigrants have been quarantined and one is detained at Gwanda Provincial Hospital for Covid-19 assessment, as a precautionary measure, after the group was found hiding at a homestead in Gwanda enroute to South Africa.
The group of illegal immigrants were being housed at a homestead in Mawane One Village in Swisha area since Wednesday last week after they failed to cross the border as it is closed.
Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs Minister Abednico Ncube, members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Ministry of Health and Child Care officials yesterday visited the homestead following a report from villagers who feared that the immigrants could be infected with Covid-19.
Matabeleland South provincial medical director, Dr Rudo Chikodzore said one of the immigrants was detained at Gwanda Provincial Hospital where he was recovering from dehydration.
She said the group will be tested and quarantined for the next 21 days to ascertain whether they have Covid-19.
“Among the 15, there was one who was critically ill so our rapid response team attended the scene. They made an assessment and brought the person back to our isolation centre at the Gwanda Provincial Hospital.
The report which I have received shows that he was severely dehydrated and very weak but according to the case definition, he didn’t fit one of a person suspected to have Covid-19 but we continue to take precautionary measures as these are immigrants who were trying to get into South Africa having travelled from Ethiopia. We are not sure which countries they could have passed through,” she said.
“We will take a sample for testing and manage him as a suspected case for now while the other members of the group, working with the office of the Provincial Development Coordinator, will be quarantined and monitored for the next 21 days. So essentially we will take due precautions to ensure if any of them turn out positive we are not found on the wrong side.”
Dr Chikodzore said they are still working on logistics through the Provincial Civil Protection Committee on where the group will be quarantined.
The group was reportedly housed at Mr Fani Ndlovu’s homestead with the assistance of a cross border transporter based in Beitbridge, Mr Ethan, who is Mr Ndlovu’s son, and his friend only identified as Bheki.
Sources said the group was headed for South Africa but failed to get across the border as it was closed and Mr Ndlovu then housed them at his parents’ homestead.
Mr Ethan was also assisting with groceries while Bheki who reportedly fled from the homestead when police arrived, was their caretaker.
Mrs Nyorobetso Ndlovu, the wife of the homestead owner, said she just saw her son and his friend arriving with a group of people on a date she can’t remember.
“My son Ethan Ndlovu and his friend whom I only know as Bheki came with these people a few days back in the middle of the night and said they would collect them. My son went back to Beitbridge where he stays and Bheki remained and he was the one looking after these people.
“They didn’t tell me what these people are doing here or who they are. I don’t know anything about the matter,” she said. The Chronicle