Government is now scouting for alternative quarantine centres to accommodate returning Zimbabweans as tertiary institutions and schools that were being used are set to reopen for students.
The existing quarantine centres are faced with a myriad of challenges including overcrowding, lack of adequate resources including blankets and food.
The country is also battling to control the spread of COVID-19 as most of the latest positive cases have been recorded among returnees.
Consultations between relevant stakeholders over the safe re-opening of schools are underway and with tertiary institutions set to open this month and secondary schools cleared to conduct public examinations for Ordinary and Advanced Level candidates.
In an interview with CITE, Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Lovemore Matuke, admitted that the opening of schools would be a challenge but the government was seized with the matter.
“We have to run around because this is an emergency so the systems will try and look for places for returnees to stay without disturbing the smooth flow of tertiary institutions,” he said.
Matuke noted that public service commission training institutions would be used as quarantine facilities.
“We have public service training institutions and our people are running around to see if these institutions can absorb our people,” he said.
Several Zimbabwean universities, colleges were turned into quarantine centres after they closed to curb the spread of COVID-19 and in the process, the sorry state of these educational facilities was exposed.
However, authorities assured citizens that after their use as quarantine centres, the tertiary institutions and schools would be fumigated before use by students.
In Bulawayo, women returnees are housed at the United College of Education while men are accommodated at Bulawayo Polytechnic.
On whether each province had enough public service training institutions to accommodate returnees, Matuke said that would depend on how government scouted for accommodation.
“We will see how many people can be catered for by our public service training institutions, but we have to co-exist with the disease, it is a reality which is here so we just have to try and find ways to save people while stopping the spread,” said the deputy minister.
On his twitter account, government’s spokesperson and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Nick Mangwana, said quarantining returnees had proven to be a good strategy against COVID-19.
“I think quarantining returning legal residents and citizens has been a very successful Coronavirus Containment Strategy by Government. One shudders to think what would have happened, had Government just allowed people to come and join their communities without quarantining and testing,” he said.