Mthabisi Tshuma, Gwanda Correspondent
PANIC has gripped Matabeleland South Province as there has been an increase in cases with truck drivers reportedly returning without valid Covid-19 free certificates, Provincial Medical Director Dr Chipo Chikodzore has said.
This is straining testing capacity at the border posts as they have to conduct the tests before entry into the country.
During the ongoing strict lockdown cross border traders have been stopped save for commercial and transit cargo.
The people allowed to enter the border should present Covid-19 free certificates that should have been issued 48 hours before departure.
There has been concern that some returnees were passing borders using fake Covid-19 free certificates and this is the same with truck drivers, using mostly Beitbridge and Plumtree border posts.
Addresssing members of the Matabeleland South Provincial Covid-19 Taskforce at a meeting held in an open space at Local Government and Public Works complex yesterday, Dr Chikodzore said the number of cases in the province had surpassed 1 400 with returning residents accumulating the largest positive numbers.
She revealed that returning truck drivers who are allowed to operate during the lockdown are giving border health authorities a torrid time.
“In terms of Covid-19 cases in the province as of Monday we had recorded 1 473 cumulative, 990 have since recovered while we have 471 active cases and 12 deaths. All our health institutions around the province have had some Covid-19 cases and one death has been recorded. We are facing a serious challenge where returning cargo drivers are reportedly now coming without valid Covid-19 certificates,” said Dr Chikodzore.
She said there was a need for training of the health personnel and the public on Covid-19 as the country is recording an increase in cases and Covid-19 related deaths.
“There is a need for major training to update on the current Covid-19 atmosphere. In terms of coordination there have been various pillars at national level and they have been advising on case management.
“In terms of case management we are not yet fully ready to manage high dependency or ICU cases.”
“As Gwanda Provincial Hospital we have one ambulance which focuses on both non-Covid-19 and Covid-19 patients which is a challenge to fully execute our duties.”
“Service vehicles for each district are one and that is a hindrance for the survelliance team to carry out their duty of mainly contact tracing as a majority of the positive cases have been returnees from across the borders,” she said.
Dr Chikodzore added that there was a need to set up isolation centres at Plumtree and Beitbridge.
Chairperson of the Matabeleland South provincial Covid-19 Taskforce team, provincial administrator Ms Latiso Dhlamini said frontline workers in the administration sector should play their role in fighting the spread of the virus during the lockdown period.
“We don’t know when this disease will end as we understand we have a new strain. We can assist by adhering to the Covid-19 regulations.
“As frontline workers in the administration where we conduct surveillance, case management and prevention, we have a big role to work in accordance with our mandate and ensure that we fight the spread of Covid-19 in our communities.
“As this pandemic is health-related, we are banking on the Ministry of Health and Child Care officials for information on how best we can play our part here,” said Ms Dhlamini. @mthabisi_mthire.