Covid-19 cases in Gweru’s quarantine centers where returnees were placed upon repatriation have become a matter of concern after four people have tested positive of the virus in a three day period.
All positive cases, one male and three females, housed at Gweru Polytechnic are returnees from Botswana.
Trying to understand whether it was by coincidence or creation that only returnees from Botswana test Covid-19 positive, an investigation carried out by CommuTalk inside the quarantine centers show that crowding during repatriation exposed these cases.
“The process exposed us to Covid-19 because we were so crowded. We were put in crowded waiting centers and that’s one. Going to the boarder, we were crowded again mixed with strangers whose status you didn’t know.
“Even when queuing for food, social distancing was never recognised. The bus we boarded from Plumtree to Gweru was also crowded and surely under such circumstances we were exposed to Covid-19,” one repatriate said.
“We did undergo tests at all stops but no results ever came. It was just testing on arrival and on departure we would just go without knowing our status amid the said circumstances. In a way, resources used were wasted considering the fact that we never got results and also circumstances related to our repatriation,” he added.
Besides being exposed to unfavorable conditions, the returnees also said the repatriation process in Botswana was forced.
“Imagine just being arrested and taken to waiting facilities. This is not what voluntary repatriation looks like. We were further forced to sign some acknowledgement forms but the honest truth is we were repatriated straight from the street,” said one repatriate.
“It’s not like we wanted to pack heavy duty staff like a fridge or something but just to secure my house and pack a few clothes. The government of Botswana should respect human rights when undertaking such processes,” added another repatriate.
Zimbabwe has to date recorded 56 positive cases, 18 recoveries, 34 active cases and four deaths since the onset of the outbreak on 20 March 2020.