Inhuman Conditions At Some Quarantine Centres A Cause For Concern in Zimbabwe

RETURNING residents ought to stay in quarantine for 21 days. However, this is not the case. Some returning residents have stayed for up to a month or even more. Quarantine overstayed results in it being more of detention. With such a delayed release, human nature rebels and can result in some people escaping.

Catherine Murombedzi Health Correspondent

The Vice President, Kembo Mohadi, speaking on a tour of a COVID-19 isolation centre in Mashava, Masvingo Province on Friday reiterated the need for the health ministry to speed up COVID-19 tests of returning residents in quarantine centres and release those found negative in the stipulated time.

“We hear some people have stayed in the quarantine centres for more than the stipulated 21 days with no results given…We call on the ministry to dispatch results on time…failure to do so results in some people escaping which should not be…

“We encourage those who have escaped to return. In the meantime the ministry of health must expedite the testing and results to minimise delays,” said VP Mohadi.

Meanwhile, Dr Norman Matara of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) decried the inhuman conditions at some of the quarantine facilities

He was speaking to journalists in a webnair hosted by HIFC on Friday.

“We have reports of four returning residents who were beaten up for breaking the law. They had escaped from the quarantine centres due to the inhuman conditions. Some returning residents have stayed in quarantine for more than the stipulated 21 days with no results given.

"Some have ended up escaping...the legal route must be used to address those escaping not beating them up...Returning residents have become prisoners of quarantine facilities...due to overcrowding they may acquire COVID in quarantine centres," said Dr Matara.

Some centres are reported to have over a dozen people sharing a room. A person who arrived negative is at risk of acquiring COVID-19 in a quarantine centre. Those also cleared to go home are at risk to be in the window period with the virus rearing ugly head days after release and already at home.

“…One can have a delayed onset even when cleared. All returnees given green light to go home must remain on alert or even take further isolation at home since they would have stayed in a facility where others tested positive,” said Dr Vongai  Mhamhiwa,  educating journalists in the same webnair.

Quarantine centres ought to be habitable for human beings with clean running water, enough food and medical care for other conditions, in case one falls ill. All health needs remain in place, however, it appears COVID-19 has taken over with all other conditions neglected.

People are failing to access contraception, this will result in unwanted pregnancies. Radiotherapy services are not available and this places cancer patients at risk. With some health facilities not functional, e.g. Parirenyatwa Hospital and Harare Hospital (now Sally Mugabe Hospital) outpatients’ departments closed due to incapacitation of health personnel, patients

may lose lives. Only critical patients are admitted with procedural operations suspended,” said Dr Matara.

With temperatures falling in Zimbabwe, COVID-19 cases are on the increase with local transmission on an upward trajectory noted in the week ending June 20.

The nation is urged to observe all stipulated measures to flatten the infection curve.

20 June, 2020 COVID-19 update as of 19 June statistics

479 Confirmed cases
412 Active cases
63 Recovered
5 Deaths

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