Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Doctors demand investigations on COVID-19 spike

By Desmond Chingarande

The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights want the government to investigate a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in quarantine centres where returnees are held for a mandatory 21 days.

doctors strike
Doctors sing and hold placards during a march through central Harare demanding the return of their union leader who was abducted in October 2019 (REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)

In an application at the High Court represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights’ Andrew Makoni, the doctors requested that the government institutes comprehensive investigations into the cause of spike in coronavirus cases at the Girls High School in Harare quarantine facility following tests conducted on May 24.

“The country has in the last few days witnessed rapid increase in positive cases of COVID-19 especially in quarantine centres with the country recording 64 cases on May 25, 61 of which were in quarantine centres and another 17 on May 27 again were from quarantine centres.

“The 35 or so who tested positive at Girls High facility had been staying at the facility from May 12 and were only tested on May 24, 15 days later after their first tests were carried out at the border,” ZDHR secretary general Norman Matara submitted in his affidavit.

“There is high likelihood that few positive cases which went untested for more than recommended testing intervals infected others. There is an additional likelihood that this was due to the lack of segregated, sanitary and hygienic conditions with proper infection control and protection of all people in quarantine at the quarantine facilities.”

The doctors said the conditions at the facilities inadequate and expose returnees to infection.

The doctors are now seeking a relief ensuring that social and physical distancing is maintained in all quarantine centres, to ensure quarantine facilities have continuous running water and functional ablution facilities.

“Quarantine centres must be regularly disinfected with approved disinfectants and ensure the screening and testing of the returnees on the 21-day mandatory quarantine subject to testing on first, eighth and 21st day,” they submitted.

“At Gweru Polytechnic College another quarantine facility, it has been reported that returnees quarantined there complained of lack of social distancing raising fears that this could fuel an outbreak of COVID-19 illness.” The Health ministry is yet to file its response. News Day