Covid-19 cases in schools spike

Covid-19 infections are on the increase in schools with the number of students that have tested positive at John Tallach High School in Matabeleland North having risen to 115, while new cases have also been reported at Prince Edward High School in Harare.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday said Government is worried about the spike in Covid-19 cases at schools.

VP Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, said at John Tallach, it is suspected that a pupil attended a funeral in South Africa and contracted Covid-19 before returning to school.

The VP said Government is still investigating the source of Covid-19 at Prince Edward but did not give the number of recorded cases.

Addressing teachers and senior Government officials at Thornhill Primary School in Gweru, where he had gone to donate Covid-19 personal protective equipment to teachers, pupils and their parents, the VP said the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Covid-19 will go around the country holding meetings with community leaders on the need for vigilance in the fight against the pandemic.

“I could have addressed the schoolchildren but because of the spike which has visited us, we have over 100 pupils affected at John Tallach Secondary School and so far, investigations tell us that one of the pupils went to attend a funeral in South Africa and the child came back and joined other children.

“We also have another spike in Harare at Prince Edward High School and we are still investigating the source of the spike. We are going through a very difficult time, not only as a country but as the entire world because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

“You can only be productive if you are healthy. So, the Ministry of Health and Child Care officials will be going around the country spreading the gospel of following WHO rules and regulations to mitigate against the spread of Covid-19.

“We also have the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force chaired by the Minister of Defense and Veterans, that committee will soon be moving around the country educating our leaders from the village, councilors, MPs, everybody in the community so that intern you also do the same.”

He urged the police to be on the lookout for people who go in public places without face masks or are not practicing social distancing.

VP Chiwenga also urged members of the public to effect citizen’s arrest on fellow citizens who break Covid-19 rules and regulations for their own safety and protection against the virus.

“Its high time the law takes its course, the police have to be harsh and all of you, you have the powers of citizen arrest. People have relaxed completely; they think everything is now okay and do as they please. There are also face shields which one can put on and if one is going to delicate areas put on gloves, you are going into a hospital or funeral, put on gloves,” he said.

Acting Matabeleland North provincial medical director (PMD) Dr Munekayi Padingani said at John Tallach High School, infected students have risen to 115.

“Our first strategy was to test symptomatic pupils. We are done with that and we moved to those who were not sick but on Wednesday some pupils came saying they were feeling symptomatic and we tested them, yesterday we were doing those who were not symptomatic,” he said.

“We want to test all of them but the problem is that if you test all of them, those who are going to be negative but were close contacts of the positive case, they can become positive latter on. We are waiting for results sent for tests done on Wednesday. For now, we have 115 positive cases.”

Dr Padingani appealed to well-wishers to assist the school with PPEs.

“The ministry of education supplied rice and mealie meal but we need more with relish. We also need surgical masks because the school is now a red zone, cloth masks are not required. They all need to use surgical masks and that is one mask per day. Imagine they are around 600 pupils, so we need that number of surgical masks per day for the duration of the quarantine and isolation,” he said.

“We also need sanitizers for every pupil and teacher. We have to disinfect the school premises like toilets and other rooms two times a day. That is our priority. Those who want to donate PPEs can bring to my office at Mhlahlandlela then we will take it there since no one is allowed at the school,” said Dr Padingani.

Parents whose children learn at John Tallach yesterday held a meeting following the outbreak at the school.

John Tallach Secondary School’s Development Committee (SDC) representative Mr Zibusiso Ncube said apart from lockdown at the institution, a clinic has been set up at the school.

“Testing is ongoing. There are 626 learners, 33 teachers and 4 other support staff presently at the school. All these are asymptomatic and as such they are at school in isolation. All those at school have been grouped into 4 groups: (a) those that have tested, (b) those that have not tested, (c) those that tested negative, (d) those that tested positive.

None of the people at the school are showing any signs of illness and the learners are in high spirits. They play, study and interact within their respective groupings,” he said.

Mr Ncube said yesterday there was a visit to the school by members of the National Covid-19 Command Centre from Harare.

He said the school proposed to release home learners who have tested negative and are not sitting for any public examinations and proposal is being considered by Government.

“Meanwhile, the school urgently needs the following: 100 litres hand sanitisers, 5 600 surgical masks, 100 Litres disinfectant, fruits. The SDC appeals for assistance in getting the items urgently required,” he added.

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