By Thandeka Moyo- Ndlovu
Girls College in Bulawayo has indefinitely closed following a Covid-19 case which was detected after the school held a leavers’ party for Upper Six students.
This development comes at a time when Covid-19 cases are on the rise in Bulawayo which now has the highest number of active cases in Zimbabwe.
One more person had died of Covid-19 in Bulawayo on Tuesday, the only death recorded in Zimbabwe as new cases continue rising in the country.
The country recorded 110 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours with 106 being local and the remainder returnees from Botswana and no deaths were recorded in the same period.
Of the new cases, Bulawayo was leading after recording 53 followed by Matabeleland South on 28 and Midlands recorded 15.
As at 25 November 2020, Zimbabwe had 9 506 confirmed cases, including 8 336 recoveries and 274 deaths.
Bulawayo has in the past five days recorded seven deaths which constitutes 77 percent of the total deaths reported in Zimbabwe during the same time.
The city has the highest number of active cases in Zimbabwe at 233 against 827 cases in the whole country.
Of the 462 new cases recorded in Zimbabwe in the last six days, 205 were from Bulawayo and authorities have said the upsurge is a testament of a good contact tracing and testing system.
Bulawayo provincial medical director Dr Welcome Mlilo confirmed the Girls College incident saying contact tracing is currently ongoing.
He bemoaned the increase of Covid-19 in the province saying it’s a worrying trend.
“We are recording a steady rise in number of Covid-19 cases in Bulawayo Metropolitan Province of late. This is obviously a worrying trend, but we believe it’s also testament to our strong surveillance system in the province. It means we are suspecting and testing the right segment of the population. It’s testament to good contact tracing,” he said.
“This unfortunately also reveals that Covid-19 continues to spread in the community. Bulawayo is expecting a sharp rise in number of returning residents from Botswana and South Africa, Injiva. As such, we are working on some measures to put in place to ensure safety of communities and to minimise spread of the virus over the holiday season.”
He called on residents to protect lives by practising safety measures which include the proper wearing of masks, social distancing and the washing of hands with either soap or hand sanitizer. “It is absolutely crucial that we practice these measures with a high level of discipline as we are now approaching the holiday season.
This can potentially present a challenge as the buzz of activity expected during this period will see an exponential rise in the number of cases. So, what we do now as Bulawayo will have a bearing on the number of cases we will experience over the festive period as well,” added Dr Mlilo.
Concerned parents said their children were informed yesterday morning that Girls College had to close to avert the spread of Covid-19.
In a letter addressed to parents dated November 24, Girls College principal Mrs Les Ross said the school continues to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our staff and students with daily monitoring of temperatures, regular sanitising of all surfaces, mask wearing and social distancing.
“As you know, on Thursday 19th November Girls College held a Leavers’ Dinner Dance for our U6 Leavers. The event was held in a large open venue and numbers of both guests and staff working at the event were kept below 100. Unfortunately, since the dance one of the attendees has tested positive for Covid-19,” read the statement.
She said the virus has been contained within the U6 group as they had for the most part finished their exams and left the school and hostels some time before the dance.
“As the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in Bulawayo is on the increase, we once again remind parents not to send their daughters to school if they are unwell or have a temperature.
“We continue to offer lessons and exams online to any students who feel they are at risk or may have been in contact with someone who is infected.” The Chronicle