Do people harbouring quarantine centre escapees understand the grave danger they are putting not only themselves but all Zimbabweans in?
Do they realise that the war against Covid-19 can actually be lost as a result of their actions?
We ask these pertinent questions because the rate at which irresponsible returning residents are turning into fugitives is alarming.
Yesterday we reported that four more people had escaped from quarantine centres around the country, bringing the total number of quarantine escapees to 187.
The development comes as six returnees from South Africa tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, bringing Zimbabwe’s cumulative total to 567 cases since the outbreak of the global pandemic in March.
Of the six new cases, four were recorded in Matabeleland South, one in Matabeleland North and one in Harare province.
This is why we are worried about the rate at which returnees are escaping from quarantine centres.
One person is reported to have escaped from the NSSA Hotel quarantine centre in Beitbridge Matabeleland South Province while three others absconded from Murewa Training Centre quarantine centre in Mashonaland East Province.
This comes after two other Malawian nationals who tested positive for Covid-19 during profiling and screening at Beitbridge escaped last week, following the escape of two other people of Malawian origin in May at the same facility.
The Covid-19 status and identities of the latest escapees however, has not been disclosed.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi called for members of the public to be wary of the increasing number of infections and to abide by Covid-19 regulations, with more than 78 000 people having been arrested for various violations across the country.
“The number of new Covid-19 cases being detected is on the increase, we urge members of the public to conscientiously adhere to the measures put in place by Government to minimise the effects of this scourge,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
At this rate, Zimbabwe could lose the war against Covid-19, and even if the war is won, the country would have lost a lot of lives that could have been saved.
Quarantine is not a prison sentence; it is a precaution.
There is life after 21 days of quarantine, lots of life. In fact, a whole lifetime.
It is evading quarantine that leads to death. Death of loved ones and other innocents. Such a heinous crime in a country that still upholds capital punishment.
Criminals must be treated as such, criminals. The sooner authorities accept this, the better. Escapees must be hunted down like the wanted criminals that they are.
Zimbabwe have been very lucky in that most Covid-19 cases are imported and have been confined to quarantine centres at border towns.
Escapees will increase the rate of local transmissions that cannot be detected and, therefore, cannot be confined to a quarantine facility.
Flattening the curve then becomes impossible, yet this is an integral part in defeating Covid-19.
Flattening the curve in epidemiology, is the idea of slowing a virus’ spread so that fewer people need to seek treatment at any given time.
Covid-19 cases must stay well within the capacity of the health sector, otherwise we will all die or lose someone.
A paradigm shift is needed: quarantine facilities may not be luxurious but they save lives.