YET another health emergency has been declared at a school in Matabeleland South province after 10 pupils tested positive for Covid-19.
Matopo High School has been sealed off, becoming the second school after John Tallach Secondary in Ntabazinduna, Matabeleland North, to report multiple cases of the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
Matabeleland South Provincial Medical Director Dr Rudo Chikodzore said the positive tests at Matopo were detected after their rapid response team responded to reports of pupils with higher than normal temperatures. Samples were also collected at other schools in the province which called into their hotline and results are due, she added.
Obey Chaputsira, who heads the Matobo district taskforce committee on Covid-19, said health workers had been deployed to begin a process of testing everyone at the school.
At John Tallach, cases have risen to 184, officials said on Monday. The school has been sealed off for two weeks after five pupils initially tested positive.
Covid-19 cases have also been reported at Chinhoyi High School in Mashonaland West and Emakhandeni Primary School and Maranatha Adventist High School in Bulawayo.
On Monday, officials revealed that three people including two health workers working at a school clinic at George Silundika High in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North, had been quarantined after testing positive for the virus.
Teachers’ unions have warned the crisis, which already threatens the smooth running of final examinations for Grade 7, Form 4 and Upper Sixth, will only get worse.
“Our schools have failed to meet the bare minimum levels of safety in the face of Covid-19,” the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The government prepared standard operating procedures that can’t be adhered to because of underfunding. The Z$600 million for safe schools opening remains unaccounted for. Teachers and learners must stay home to avoid mass infections.”
Raymond Majongwe, the secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) warned:
“No testing happened when schools reopened. Several teachers and learners were coming from neighbouring countries. No PPEs and other requirements were provided for both teachers and learners. Trouble is coming.”
The PTUZ, in a statement, said if the government does not move to “assist learners and teachers with PPEs urgently, as well as ensure compliance with standard operating procedures,” the list of schools with Covid-19 will only get longer.
The government maintains that the situation remains “under control” countrywide, and is determined that exams proceed as planned next month.
Health authorities say 9,308 Zimbabweans have been infected with Covid-19 leading to 273 deaths as of Monday night. – ZimLIVE ■