Fears reopening of schools could push up Covid-19 cases

Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chairperson, Ruth Labode, fears the reopening of schools slated for end of July could further push up Covid-19 cases and force Zimbabwe into another intense lockdown like Madagascar.

The Island nation of Madagascar this week re-imposed a lockdown in its central region, which includes its capital Antananarivo, in an effort to tackle an increase in coronavirus cases in the city.

The decision was taken after the country recorded 209 new cases in the capital Saturday bringing the total number to 2, 941 coronavirus cases.

The government had initially locked down the country’s two largest cities – Antananarivo and Toamasina – as the virus spread in March before lifting it four weeks later to promote herbal treatment of COVID-19.

Zimbabwe currently stands at 885 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 206 recoveries and nine deaths.

Schools, which closed in March prior the initial 21-day national lockdown to curb the spread of the pandemic, are set to reopen on July 28 on a phased approach with examination writing classes being allowed back first.

“Mr Speaker sir, I am very concerned about students opening end of this month,” said Labode during a parliamentary session Wednesday.

“I hope we will not lead ourselves into another lockdown like Madagascar,” she said.

In his response, Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Cain Mathema said Zimbabweans needed to do their best to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

“I thank the Hon. Member for her worries and indeed the whole country needs to be worried,” said Mathema.

“We all need to do the best we can to prevent the spread of this pandemic. Mr. Speaker Sir, we do the best we can at the schools to protect our learners or our children, teachers and all staff members of each school. We have thermometers at each school, sanitisers and masks. So we do the best we can to make sure that nobody is affected by the illness.”

Earlier on, responding to legislators’ concerns on the continued use of schools for church services at a time when the country is battling the global pandemic, Mathema said he had since banned that.

“In fact, this morning (Wednesday) I gave a directive that churches must move out of schools in preparation for the opening of schools at the end of this month. I sent out that directive this morning.”

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)

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