Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu/ Leonard Ncube, Chronicle Reporters
THE Covid-19 cases in schools are rising following reported cases in schools in Matabeleland region and Matopo High School in Matabeleland South is the latest school to be quarantined after 10 Covid-19 cases were recorded.
The number of cases at John Tallach High School in Ntabazinduna, Matabeleland North has since risen while Emakhandeni Primary school in Bulawayo has also recorded some cases.
Two weeks ago, Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care warned of the possibility of the country being hit by a second wave of Covid-19 saying ignorance, denial and wishful thinking could lead to more deaths.
Schools have become the latest institutions to be hit by the virus after their phased reopening which started on September 28.
In the latest case, Matopo High school has been turned into a quarantine centre to prevent the further spreading of the virus after 10 cases were recorded.
Matabeleland South Provincial Medical Director, Dr Rudo Chikodzore said they were yet to establish the number of schools that have recorded positive cases in Matobo District as results were still coming in.
She said samples had been collected from a number of schools. “We collected a number of samples from various schools in Matobo District as part of the rapid response to check on the situation in schools. Some of the results came out positive in some of the schools but we are still to compile a final report as we are still receiving results. We don’t have the conclusive number of schools because the results are still coming in,” she said.
Dr Chikodzore said Covid-19 rapid response teams follow up on suspicious cases or cases that come through the Covid-19 hotline.
“All our districts have been on high alert since the outbreak in March and our teams have been monitoring the situation at schools since the re-opening,” she said.
Matobo District Development Coordinator who is also the chairperson of the district taskforce committee on Covid-19, Mr Obey Chaputsira said Matopo High School had been placed under quarantine following the recording of the 10 cases.
Acting Matabeleland North Provincial Medical Director Dr Munekayi Padingani said the number of pupils and teachers that had tested Covid-19 positive at John Tallach had risen to 145.
Dr Padingani said the school was yesterday waiting for results of other samples.
The Ntabazinduna-based school has since been closed and turned into an isolation and quarantine centre in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.
“The number of positive cases has risen to 145 including pupils and teachers and we are waiting for other results which we expect today. What we did was that after we were invited by the school, we went there and tested the first five and removed them from the school to isolate at home. One is in Hwange while the other four are in Bulawayo. When their results came out positive, we went back to school and tested 86 others and 41 of the tests came out positive. That’s when we established an isolation and quarantine centre within the school where testing is taking place,” said Dr Padingani.
He said the school was turned into a quarantine and isolation centre because pupils could not be sent to isolate at their homes as that would have exposed their families to the virus.
No other school has reported any Covid-19 cases in Matabeleland North, Dr Padingani said.
Despite the rising Covid-19 cases at learning institutions, Primary and Secondary Education communication and advocacy director Mr Taungana Ndoro told Chronicle that schools are strictly following regulations.
Under the schools Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), hugs, handshakes and sharing of desks are not permitted in schools.
Break and lunch time must be staggered to prevent crowding by learners while sporting activities are banned.
A classroom should only accommodate a maximum of 35 pupils and to allow for social distancing. — @ncubeleon