Gvt Orders Schools With Poor COVID-19 Management Capacities To Close As Coronavirus Infects 100 Pupils In Matabeleland

CABINET has resolved to close schools without proper COVID-19 management equipment and capacity as well as those where COVID-19 is suspected as a means to avoid spread of the virus into communities.

By Michael Gwarisa

The call comes hot on the heels of a resurgence of COVID-19 in the country with Bulawayo emerging as the new epicenter for the virus amidst indications that not less than 100 pupils at  John Tallach Secondary School in Ntabazinduna, Matabeleland North province have so far tested positive for the virus.

Briefing Journalists during a post a post cabinet media briefing, Information and publicity and broadcasting services minister, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said government was closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in schools.

In the primary and secondary education sector, learner attendance statistics stand as follows: Phase 1 (final examination classes), 51.5%; Phase 2 (Grade 6, Form 3 and Lower 6th Form), 35.3%; and Phase 3 (ECD, Grade1, 2,3,4,5 Form 1and 2), 24.6%.Teacher attendance has remained below optimal level with the overall teacher attendance for the week standing at 30%, compared to 25.7% recorded last week.

“To ensure that schools do not become flashpoints for the spread of COVID-19, Cabinet resolved that where COVID-19 cases are suspected in schools without adequate testing facilities, these schools should be immediately closed in order to allow for testing of all pupils and only those who test negative return to school. Schools with adequate facilities may continue lessons while testing proceeds and those who test positive are excluded,” said Senator Mutsvangwa.

As of 13 November 2020, Zimbabwe had recorded a total of 8 756COVID-19 cases, 8090 recoveries, and 257 deaths. The national recovery rate is 92 percent. Seven thousand two hundred and ninety-six (7 296) of the COVID-19-positive cases are local transmissions. New cases for week 45 stood at 294, compared to 109 recorded in week 44.

“Cabinet notes, with concern, that there has been an increase in COVID-19 positive cases over the past two weeks. To guard against a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, Government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, is strengthening surveillance and health information management in order to ensure an efficient and effective system to counter such an eventuality. Furthermore, awareness campaigns will focus on community engagement using community leaders with support from sub-national structures to foster community responsibility and enforce COVID-19 preventative and precautionary measures.

“Regarding the laboratory testing for COVID-19, the total number of PCR tests done during the reporting week is 5 028, down from the 5 600 carried out during the previous week. Concerning the management, prevention and control of COVID-19-positive cases, the nation is advised that there were no cases in isolation and treatment facilities, with all identified cases recovering in isolation at home.

“Training in the management of COVID-19 infection, prevention and control continues as part of mitigating a resurgence of COVID-19. Psychosocial support training for healthcare workers is also ongoing, while the Ministry of Health and Child Care is reviewing and updating its Infection Prevention Control policies and guidelines.”

On materials production and availability, Senator Mutsvangwa said Natpharm and private companies have adequate stocks of most medicines and drugs required for the prevention, treatment and supportive management of COVID-19.

“Stocks of PPE are also sufficient to meet demand. Meanwhile, Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, continues to offer logistical support for the repatriation of Zimbabwean nationals and students across the globe. On a related matter, the situation regarding trucks at Beitbridge has improved, following the intervention on the South African side, where bottlenecks were being.”

Meanwhile, 48 New Cases and 2 Deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. (7 day rolling average* for new cases remains at 48 ).  875 PCR tests done today (Positivity today was 5.5%).  47 are local cases and 1 is a returnee from Tanzania (Deaths reported by Bulawayo). 49 new recoveries reported: National Recovery rate stands at 91.3% and Active cases go down to 521 today. As of 17 November 2020, Zimbabwe has now recorded 8945 Cases 8164 recoveries and 260 Deaths.

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