The corona virus originated in China and we knew it was being spread by an infected person passing the virus to others. So, the first line of defence for the rest of the world was for each individual country to make sure no one brings the virus into the country. Anyone arriving at all its entry-points was either refused entry or subjected to very strict quarantine conditions for the duration of the virus incubation period.
New Zealand is the one country that has imposed strict quarantine conditions and has had very few, if any at all, cases of anyone who has not travelled outside the country catching the corona virus.
Zimbabwe's first covid-19 case was the late Zororo Makamba who, on arrival from trip outside the country, have the covid-19 symptoms and immigration officials tried to detain him. He reportedly called a senior Zanu-PF official who instructed the immigration staff to let him go – that is how totally ineffective our first line of defence was!
Once the virus was in the country, the second line of defence was to test, track and isolate all suspected covid-19 cases aggressively. South Korean and Germany are the two countries that have done well in this regard.
Zimbabwe has not been testing aggressively ignoring all the repeated advice to do so. There is growing evidence that the Zanu-PF regime is deliberately under reporting the number of the covid-19 cases in the country for selfish political gain. The regime is falsifying the true number of covid-19 cases and deaths to take the sting out of the criticism for its failure to contain the virus if the true figures got out; just as China did.
China tried to keep a lid on the corona virus outbreak by silencing the Wuhan doctor who first diagnosed the new virus. Most people do not believe that the Chinese government has under reported the covid-19 cases and deaths. The combination of reporting the outbreak late and under reporting the cases has contributed to the virus spreading all over the world. And by the same token Zanu-PF's failure to test aggressively, under reporting the cases and other acts of continued blundering incompetence are helping the virus spread far and wide within our borders.
Still, if the nation was to believe the regime's report that there have been a total of 56 confirmed cases in the country and the overwhelming majority of these cases are people coming into the country then there is need for the country to tighten its quarantine conditions. Reports of people escaping from quarantine centres is therefore cause for serious alarm.
"I can confirm that 99 returnees have escaped from various quarantine centres across the country," said ZRP spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, according to a Zimeye report.
"However, some of them have been arrested. As police, we have stepped up our patrols to ensure that returnees do not escape. We are working with other stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure compliance. We also urge returnees to comply with the quarantine regulations."
Anyone who has followed story of unhygienic condition in most of these quarantine centres would not be surprised returnees are escaping. Why the regime has failed to provide something as basic as clean running water beggars belief! These quarantine centres are covid-19 hotspots in their own right.
To make matters worse, the regime is not testing and screening these returnees timeously, reportedly because it is running out of test kits. The prospect of someone with no corona virus on arrival getting it during they stay there, particularly when the stay there could be extended well beyond the stipulated 21 days, in real and scary!
And yet I would plead with the escaped returnees to go back to the quarantine centres. Here are some things that can do to not only enhance their own chances of surviving covid-19 but also help others, the nation, survive:
1) If you can make your own quarantine arrangements then go ahead. Make sure you have all the details of where you will be staying, how you will get there, who will take care of you if you should become sick, etc., etc. If the government cannot provide a safe quarantine conditions then it has no cause to deny those who can do so on their own.
2) If you have to stay in the government provided quarantine centres then think of the many things you and your follow residence can do to minimise the spread of the virus. You can agree on each group of returnees staying in one block, using the same table, etc. Where different groups have to share the same resource such as a common water supply agree on time slots for each group and make sure the resource is thoroughly cleaned after each group's use.
3) If anyone in the group should be sick, assume it is covid-19, and isolate the individual as much as possible and take care of their basic needs of food, water, etc. A time is coming when you will ask for help and none will come; you will have to count on each other.
4) Last but most important of all, keep a detailed account of what happened; for one thing, it will help keep your sanity in the midst of all the madness around you!
Just because we have the misfortune of having a corrupt, incompetent government that is more interested in hiding its blundering incompetence by falsifying the seriousness of covid-19 does not mean we should just give up and become one of the hundreds of thousands of wasted human lives.
Zimbabwe has received close to 4 000 returnees for far, there are a hell lot more returnees to come. The chaos, confusion, suffering and deaths in our quarantine centres and in society at large is set to reach nauseating heights as the covid-19 outbreak reaches its peak!
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