Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Correspondent
FOUR Zimbabwe embassy in South Africa staffers and two members of their families tested positive for Covid-19, forcing the closure of the office for 18 days, although it has since partially opened albeit with non-essential services being suspended.
The staffers, who are stationed at the Zimbabwe Johannesburg Consulate, were put on self-isolation while the office had to be under total shutdown from June 3 to 21.
While the total number of Covid-19 cases was six, inclusive of the family members of consulate staffers, two staff members have since recovered.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa Ambassador David Hamadziripi yesterday said the two members of staff did not show symptoms of Covid-19 infection.
“I can confirm that the Johannesburg offices temporarily closed following the positive test results of two staffers who were put under isolation. They are asymptomatic. We have reopened however with very limited services being offered. Other members of staff have undergone Covid-19 testing,” he said.
Consul-General Mrs Melody Chaurura in a statement said: “Two people at the mission tested positive for the virus at our mission on June 3. Everyone was tested and after 14 days, all protocols were followed and all staff members were retested where it was then discovered that two more staff members had the Covid-19 virus. We had to quickly remove them from their families to protect them and they were booked into a facility.”
Mrs Chaurura said members who had tested negative were being given time to physically and mentally recover from their ordeal before they resume duty.
She said the other Covid-19 positive patients were still recovering.
The Consul-General said a raft of measures were being implemented to ensure the safety of staff at the consulate who had to work despite the pandemic, including the practice of social distancing, provision of personal protective equipment and disinfection of working spaces.
“So, we have since had our premises decontaminated twice and have upgraded our preventive measures and disinfection routines for the protection and safety of all members of staff at the mission,” she said.
She said the consulate is only open for repatriation of bodies to Zimbabwe and issuance of Temporary Travel Documents for Zimbabweans wishing to go back home.
“Other urgent consular services which do not require physical contact will also be offered. A similar notice informing stakeholders when the office will be re-opened for normal consular services will be issued in due course,” said Mrs Chaurura.
South Africa has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, being the hardest hit African country, with total cases having surged past the 100 000 mark.
As at yesterday afternoon, over 106 000 Covid-19 cases had been recorded in the Southern African country, with deaths totalling 2 102. — @andile_tshuma.