Zim Quarantine Facilities Still Experiencing Test Kits Shortages- ZADHR

THE Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has raised alarm of the low testing levels across Zimbabwe’s quarantine facilities as a result of shortages of test kits.

By Michael Gwarisa

According to the ZADHR’s 6th COVID-19 Monitoring and Advocacy Report, the shortages have resulted in test kits being priced way above the reach of many.

Over the past 2 weeks ZADHR has received reports of shortages of screening and test kits at quarantine centres in Harare, Gweru, Chinhoyi and Victoria Falls and in some cases returnees being asked to pay for testing costs ranging between USD25.00 to USD65.00 per test.

“This sad scenario is further compounded by the poor state of the quarantine facilities whose standards fall far below the WHO minimum standards. ZADHR strongly suspects that the recent spike in cases in quarantine centres is a result of the poor living conditions at the quarantine facilities,” said ZADHR.

They added that Quarantine facilities at Girls High School, in Gweru, Chinhoyi and Victoria Falls have been reported as; Sharing of dormitories and sleeping close to each other in violation of the social and physical distancing, exposing the returnees to infection and some cases there is sharing of ablution facilities which are dirty and in a state of disrepair.

“Lack of regular facilities disinfection contrary to the COVID-19 guidelines and the President’s pronouncements and no sanitisers are being provided to the occupants, posing a serious health risk. Utensils are not being washed with soap and are inadequate. Returnees particularly women are reported to be taking turns to reuse the same plates, cups, spoons and other utensils.

“There is absence of running water forcing the returnees to fetching water in buckets using this to flush toilets, bath and drink. Inhibited access to medication for people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes at the Girls High School Quarantine.”

ZADHR also raised concern over reports that about 150 returnees were released from a Gweru facility four days ahead of schedule on the 24th of May 2020, after returnees threatened to protest against poor living conditions.

“ZADHR is worried about delayed testing of returnees on arrival at quarantine facilities. ZADHR received reports that the Girls High Quarantine Centre where a group of about 96 returnees including pregnant women and an infant who were quarantined Harare Polytechnic College on the 10th of May 2020 and later moved to Girls High School in Harare for further quarantining, upon arrival at Harare Polytechnic College were not tested despite some individuals clearly exhibiting flue-like symptoms.

“The returnees were also not tested upon arrival at Girls High School until Sunday the 24th of May 2020, when they were finally tested. When returnees were finally tested on the 24th of May 2020 most of them were not exhibiting signs or symptoms of illness,” added the report.

Results for those tested returned 4 days later on the 28th of May 2020 at least 35 of the returnees had tested positive to COVID-19 and were to Wilkins Hospital. Chinhoyi quarantine facility has also reported the absence of testing.

“ZADHR has received and also noted reports of returnees escaping from the quarantine facilities. 19 returnees were reported to have escaped from Mkoba Teachers College quarantine (Newsday,29 May 2020). We urge the government to improve the conditions of services through making them humane and habitable. ZADHR believes this will go a long way in enhancing adherence to guidelines by returnees.”

Meanwhile, the ZADHR has called for accountability in the tendering, procurement and distribution of COVOD-19 Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) amidst reports that there has been some profiteering tendencies by certain organisations and individuals

“ZADHR has noted the acquisition, at ballooned costs, of COVID-19 related equipment and consumables by the government of Zimbabwe. The recent report that government extend a one million USD tender to Drax International without going to tender is a cause for concern.

“We urge the Ministry to adhere to state procurement regulations to enhance public trust and confidence in an environment where citizens are concerned with individuals profiteering from the crisis through abuse of office.”

 

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