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Mutare prepares for large overseas returnees

By Rumbidzayi Zinyuke

A large group of returnees on its way to Beira by ship is expected in Mutare soon, prompting the provincial Covid-19 taskforce to identify more facilities that can be used as quarantine centres.

Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba

Members of the provincial Covid-19 taskforce, led by Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba and Public Service Commission (PSC) Secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe, yesterday toured Rowa Training Centre, which is one of the quarantine facilities in the province.

Thirteen returnees from Mozambique are housed at the facilities.

Dr Gwaradzimba, who chairs the provincial taskforce, said though the number of people returning through Beira was still to be established, five other institutions had so far been identified to be used as quarantine centres should Rowa overflow.

“We are running around trying to establish as many centres as possible because we are expecting that we might have many people coming in from abroad through the port of Beira by ship. We have not received the numbers yet, but we are just preparing in the event that we get such numbers.

“The Immigration Department and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade will alert us once the number is established so that we are prepared,” she said.

However, Dr Gwaradzimba could not disclose where the returning residents were coming from.

The taskforce had approached Mutare Teachers’ College, Marymount Teachers’ College, Mutare Polytechnic, Forestry Industrial Training Centre and Toronto Training Centre to accommodate the returnees.

Priority is being given to centres around Mutare for now, although centres have been identified in all districts to cater for returning residents who come in through other ports of entry.

Manicaland has two official ports of entry that are functional; Forbes in Mutare and Espungabeira in Chipinge, but there are many other unofficial crossing points used by communities in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Dr Gwaradzimba said security forces were on high alert to ensure anyone using these points is quarantined and tested.

She said the initial batch of returnees to be quarantined at Rowa would be released after 14 days once PCR test results done on samples taken from them prove that they are covid-19 negative.

Rowa Training Centre is run by the Public Service Commission and has a capacity to hold 45 people at any given time.

Ambassador Wutawunashe said the tour of the facility would enable them to identify areas that need to be addressed for it to be ready to cater for more residents.

“We want to take an all stakeholders approach to see what needs to be done to improve the facility so that it becomes more amenable for use. We also want to assess how our staff can be protected as they take care of the residents.

“So far protective equipment has been issued to the staff and great care is being taken in preparing food and taking care of the needs of the residents,” he said. The Herald

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