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Police seal off Bulawayo school as Covid-19 cases rise to 115

Story Highlights
  • At least two teachers have the virus. Among the first five cases that were sent home, the entire family of one of the pupils tested positive.

THE number of confirmed coronavirus John cases at John Tallach High School in Matabeleland North Province have risen by 15 to 115, and authorities have set up a Covid-19 treatment centres at the institution while also sealing it off.

Acting Matabeleland North Provincial Medical Director, Dr Munekayi Pafinganu told State-owned ZBC that the school, located 40km outside Bulawayo, has been sealed off to ensure the 115 COVID-19 cases are dealt with.

The school was forced into lockdown last week after six pupils were found to have higher than normal temperature before five subsequently tested positive for the virus.

The secondary School in Matabeleland North has been closed after 100 pupils and an undisclosed number of teachers tested positive to Covid-19.

Dr Munekayi Padingani, the acting provincial medical director for Matabeleland North said tests were still ongoing, and the numbers could rise. The school has an enrolment of 670 pupils.

“The school is quarantined. No-one is going in or out. Classes are closed. We have put a satellite clinic inside the school and our staff are staying there to test and treat. We now have an isolation centre on-site.

“We are putting the pupils in clusters – those who are positive are put in one room; the negative in another room; those who are sick but tested negative in another room and those who have been tested are put in another room while waiting for results,” Padingani said.

He said they had shipped sufficient PPEs, medicines and other medical consumables to ensure that their makeshift clinic is well equipped.

Police are now enforcing the complete lockdown of the school, he said.

“We did our investigations. You know in Bulawayo people are going to South Africa clandestinely and coming back. One of the students went there to bury his father illegally and came back.

“We’re not sure if it’s that student who brought the disease. The problem started when they opened for the Lower Sixth and Form 3 classes on October 26,” said Padingani.

“The day the school called us to come and check on the six cases, that’s when the Form 2s and 1s were coming. They had to be stopped, so they’re not at the school until this situation is contained.”

At least two teachers have the virus. Among the first five cases that were sent home, the entire family of one of the pupils tested positive.

“We are just speculating, for now, looking at various scenarios, before we do a scientific investigation,” said Pandingani.

Teachers’ unions had opposed the opening of schools for the third term, warning of the scenario now unravelling at John Tallach. ■

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