Government is reviewing the maximum carrying capacity of all boarding school hostels after 184 pupils at John Tallach School in Ntabazinduna, Matabeleland North, tested positive of the COVID-19 while it is also set to intensify the enforcement of lockdown restrictions and measures as the country experienced a surge in the number of cases in the past three weeks.
Zimbabwe has recorded a cumulative 9 120 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 8 229 recoveries, and 265 deaths as at Monday this week while the national recovery rate is 90.2 percent with 7 650 of the COVID-19 positive cases are local transmissions.
New cases for Week 46 stood at 281, compared to 294 recorded in week 45 while the total number of PCR tests done during the reporting week is 6 191, up from 5 028 carried out during the previous week with the increase being attributed to wider utilisation of Gene Xpert machines.
Addressing 42th Post-Cabinet Press Briefing on Tuesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said in response to COVID-19 positive cases reported at learning institutions following the full re-opening of schools, government had put in place measures to strengthen protective and preventative moves measures in boarding school environments.
“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education with technical support from the Ministry of Health and Child Care was reviewing the maximum carrying capacity of all boarding hostels; conducting detailed inspection of boarding facilities; and targeted training of hostel matron, boarding masters as well as kitchen staff,” she said.
To guarantee of fresh water to schools in need, the minister said $150 million was released to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education for the drilling of boreholes.
Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had expressed concern over the increase in COVID-19 positive cases over the past three weeks reiterating that the lockdown and curfew measures previously announced were still subsisting.
“It should be noted that public bars, night clubs, beerhalls, casinos, betting shops and theatres are still not permitted to operate. The nation is informed that gatherings are still limited to two (2) persons, while authorised events such as weddings and church congregation as are limited to fifty (50) and one hundred (100) persons, respectively.
“The enforcement of lockdown measures will be intensified henceforth. It should be emphasized that where there is non-compliance to these regulations the low enforcement agencies will not hesitate to enforce the penalties prescribed,” she said.
She advised the public to take all the necessary precautions to prevent a surge in COVID-19 positive cases ahead of the festive season.
“Those visiting the country should undergo COVID-19 tests in their countries of origin and bring valid COVID-19 negative results obtained within 48 hours of departure in line with WHO protocols.
“Meanwhile, a robust awareness creation programme is being rolled out under which the engagement of communities is being strengthened.”
Cabinet advises that 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, Minister Mutsvangwa released learner attendance statistics for both primary and secondary education sector which stood at 50.7 percent for Phase 1 (final examination classes); Phase 2 (Grade 6, Form 3 and Lower 6th Form) standing at 42.26 percent and Phase 3 (ECD, Grade 1,2,3,4,5, Form 1 and 2) recorded at 32.78 percent.