Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
GOVERNMENT is working on reducing to two days the turnaround period for people, especially foreigners on transit, kept in quarantine centres while waiting for Covid-19 results.
The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test results take between three and 14 days to come meaning people stay in quarantine centres longer.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paul Mavima who visited Encore Budget Lodge quarantine centre in Victoria Falls on Friday said there was no point in keeping people longer as long as they are proven to be Covid-19 free.
He was speaking with reference to a family of eight Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) nationals which entered the country via Beitbridge from South Africa and arrived in Victoria Falls last Sunday.
The eight are quarantined at Encore Budget alongside six locals returning from various countries. The Congolese nationals are on their way to their motherland to bury their father and are waiting for results following PCR tests done a day after their arrival.
“We are coming from South Africa. We hired a vehicle to go to DRC to bury our father and already we have missed a church service,” said one of them.
The Immigration Department is reportedly waiting for test results for the eight before it can clear them to proceed.
Minister Mavima who was accompanied by a Victoria Falls Taskforce on Covid-19 team and Matabeleland North Provincial Social Welfare Officer Mr Macnon Chirinzepi said plans were underway to reduce turnaround period.
“These are the things we are working on. There is also a Zimbabwean who returned from Namibia and is going to Murambinda to bury his father. We want to push for a maximum of two days but one day will be better so that people travel to their areas,” said Minister Mavima.
A local tourism operator, Mrs Gail van Jaarsveldt said Victoria Falls has two GeneXpert machines with no cartridges.
As a result, PCR samples from Victoria Falls are sent to Bulawayo and sometimes to St Luke’s Hospital in Lupane, which delays release of results.
“The machines’ turnaround period is 45 minutes and one can get results. This would be ideal even for use at the border,” she said.
The GeneXpert machine would also be handy for testing tourists on arrival at ports of entry especially in the tourism areas like Victoria Falls.
Encore Budget, with 14 returnees and Inyathi Training Centre in Bubi with 27 are the two main quarantine centres in Matabeleland North. Those who opted to pay for themselves are housed at Phezulu Lodge in Victoria Falls. — @ncubeleon