Elliot Ziwira and Joseph Madzimure
Schools, colleges and universities will no longer be used as Covid-19 quarantine centres for returnees since they will soon partially re-open, while hundreds of buses and kombis have joined the Zupco fleet to ease transport challenges.
In addition, almost all the more than 3 000 vacant public sector health posts that were unfrozen in March are now filled with qualified staff.
Announcing the developments yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, speaking for the ad hoc Inter-ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19, said stakeholders were now working out the logistics for safe and secure conditions for children in examination classes to return to school and final year students to colleges and universities.
Hostels and student accommodation are being used at several schools and colleges to quarantine returning citizens and residents but churches, vocational centres and national youth training centres are now being identified and assessed to take over.
President Mnangagwa directed in his last national address that “public exam classes within schools and final year students at colleges and universities must be allowed to resume but with strict observations of the stipulated Covid-19 prevention measures”.
In her briefing, Minister Mutsvangwa said those in quarantine at the educational facilities would stay there until their compulsory supervised initial quarantine period was finished then the accommodation would be rehabilitated and disinfected.
Transport challenges have been growing as the formal economy joins essential services in being exempted from the lockdown.
The independent kombis, which were the backbone of public transport, have been banned although kombi and bus owners can apply to join the Zupco fleet as under the already existing franchise arrangement.
The public transport shortages have been worsened by the necessary social distancing rules, which effectively halve the number of the passengers in a bus or kombi.
“The ZUPCO fleet (of buses and kombis) has been increased by between 300 and 800 to meet the public’s growing demand for transport.
“The fleet size will continue to be reviewed to ensure that there is adequate public transport,’’ she said.
Zimbabwe continues to upgrade its health services to cope with any outbreak of Covid-19.
“I am pleased to announce that of 3 713 health posts that were unfrozen in March 2020, 3 539 have been filled. The process of filling the remaining 174 outstanding is underway.
She called upon Zimbabweans to learn to adapt to the pandemic as a way of curbing its spread.
Speaking at the same occasion, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said there was need for adequate testing facilities.
“We have other platforms that we need to increase such as the number of suppliers so that we do not depend on one supplier.
“What has been happening is that there is a huge demand worldwide and therefore Zimbabwe, which is just as a small country, will end up probably not being given the utmost consideration by other suppliers,” he said.