Form Four pupil tests positive for Covid-19 Dr Welcome Mlilo

Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu and Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporters
A FORM Four pupil at a Bulawayo school tested positive for Covid-19 resulting in her contacts who include her classmates, being forced to self-isolate at home.

The pupil is part of the exam classes pupils that resumed lessons on September 28 to prepare for Zimbabwe School Examination Council (Zimsec) examinations which are set to start on December 1.

The girl’s Covid-19 positive results were confirmed last Tuesday and school authorities immediately followed laid down measures meant to curb the spread of the pandemic.

The measures are part of the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry’s Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) guiding schools for safe reopening under the Covid-19 environment.

Officials at the school confirmed the case, highlighting that it could have emanated from the community.

The authorities said all health guidelines were followed and the pupil is recovering from home.

“We are pleased to note that the pupil is at home and doing fine. She was tested at one of the public hospitals in Bulawayo and was advised to isolate. Staff members and other learners who were in contact with the learner were tested and so far, we have not encountered any further Covid-19 related challenges at the school. The school continues to observe Covid-19 prevention guidelines as outlined by the Ministry of Health and Child Care,” said the official.

Bulawayo acting provincial medical director Dr Welcome Mlilo said health officials were working with the school to ensure the situation is properly managed.

He said the rapid response team also conducted contact tracing which resulted in a number of pupils being tested for Covid-19.

“We have already put the pupil on isolation so that we do not expose other pupils and teachers to Covid-19. Members of the public should note that the pupil did not contract the disease from the school because so far there is only one case which means it could have emanated from the community,” said Dr Mlilo.

He said schools remain safe for learners despite the isolated incident.

“We continue to ensure that this school and the rest of schools in the city follow WHO guidelines so that pupils and teachers are protected. We still encourage members of the public to exercise caution, wash hands, wear masks and practice social distancing all the time,” he said.

Bulawayo Provincial Education Director Mrs Olicah Kaira said a report about the case was forwarded to the ministry’s permanent secretary Mrs Tumisang Thabela.

Mrs Thabela could not be reached for comment but the Ministry’s SOP outlines what ought to be done when a Covid-19 case is reported within the school set up.

Schools are supposed to screen every pupil as they come to school while those who are unwell with flu like symptoms should stay away from school.

“If a learner or member of the staff is sick, she/he should not come to school. Schools and independent colleges should enforce the policy of “staying at home if unwell” for learners, teachers, or school staff with symptoms. School health co-ordinators should avail contact details of the Ministry of Health and Child Care team allocated to each school for members to quickly access health services where necessary,” reads the SOP document.

SOP also demands that an infected pupil or members of the staff should stay at home for 14 days after contracting or coming into contact with a positive person.

“The school officials should immediately notify public health authorities in cases of suspected contact by any learner, member of staff or visitors with any identified positive Covid-19 infected individual(s)” reads the document.

The case of a pupil testing positive to Covid-19 comes at a time when new Covid-19 cases are on the rise again in Bulawayo which at present has the highest number of active cases in the country.

On Sunday 37 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in Zimbabwe and 20 of those were from Bulawayo. – @thamamoe/-@nqotshili.

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