I also want to let you know that we had a meeting with the captains of the tourism industry on March 5 which I chaired. We advised them of the dangers of the coronavirus — I gave them a typical example that if for a example they were to have a patient or a traveller arriving at their hotel and they suddenly get all those symptoms; it would be a drastic issue for them because if that person turns out to be positive it means we have to close up the hotel immediately and everyone residing at the hotel has to be quarantined. Initially they were saying, no we think it is okay; as soon as we informed them about the consequences they then realised that it was a serious issue. So we do not want this Covid-19 to be spread because it spreads like wildfire.
The meeting turned out to be a very good meeting and they are collaborating with us very well. We also had meetings with the various airports. We have said that we want to have the Airport Compliance Committees to be well established and also the Ground Port Compliance Committees to be well established. People must meet on a continuous basis, review on daily basis what is happening at the airports and the evacuation systems must be ready. Like now, we have an ambulance stationed at the airport just before the planes coming from the affected areas or out of Zimbabwe arrive; we have ambulances waiting there until everyone is cleared so that if there is anyone who is identified as having a fever they are immediately whisked downstairs and taken into the ambulance straight to the isolation centre.
We have put systems in place at all these border posts. We have had to utilise some of the facilities which were being used by Immigration. They are now being used by Port Health. The cages which are there are now Port Health cages. In comparison to what was also being circulated on the social media where there was a small desk with torn papers and scribbling about coronavirus; it is all fake information. We have very nice cages where the Port Health authorities are behind the cages and they take the temperatures from within.
Before that, there would have been another Immigration Officer who would have verified where the traveller is coming from. They have got all the details and they put them down on paper.
There are a lot of people who come through Beitbridge — 13 000 a month and six million a year. It gets worse during holiday times. We have had to re-enforce and make sure that all the Immigration Officers at the ports work together with the Port Health authorities. It cannot be left to the Port Health authorities only. Likewise, the Police and Defence Forces are all there and working as one team at our borders.
– Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo