COVID19News

Returnees lament squalid conditions, demand immediate release

Some returnees housed at Townsend Girls High school quarantine centre in Bulawayo have demanded to be released citing poor services at the facility.

The returnees, who spoke to CITE on condition of anonymity, bemoaned the unavailability of water and poor ablution facilities at the centre. 

They said they have been at the centre for two weeks but are yet to receive the results of their Covid-19 tests conducted a week ago.

The country to date has a total of 5745 cases, of which 1069 are still active and 151 deaths have been recorded. 

Information, Broadcasting and Publicity Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa on Tuesday during a post cabinet briefing announced that returnees who test negative for PCR upon arrival will no longer be detained but will be put on home quarantine while constant reviews are conducted to monitor them until their 21 days lapse. 

The returnees at Townsend said they saw no reason for them to be further detained amid reports that some inmates are being released before getting their results. 

“The government needs to release us as quickly as possible from these centres. We took our tests last week but till now we have not yet received our results. What’s the use of staying this long when there is a possibility that we won’t get them in time? When we first came here there was a bunch of fellow returnees who left this place after having completed their 21 days but still without their results,” said one inmate. 

“We were told that the results may delay from the laboratories. It is best that they let us go to our homes. This facility is a breeding place for Coronavirus. There’s no water and the toilets are dirty. The meals we eat are not healthy either.”

Acting provincial medical director Dr Welcome Mlilo, in an interview explained that according to the latest measures at quarantine centres, a tested person should be released within ten days if they show no symptoms.

“Any person who gets tested, if they do not manifest symptoms within ten days they are treated as non-infectious people hence they are discharged from the isolation centre. So of late no quarantine centre has been keeping people for over ten days. The people who got released from that centre today are people who were tested on August 14,” Dr Mlilo said. 

Efforts to get a comment on the water situation at the centre from Bulawayo provincial social welfare officer Fanwell Dzoma were futile as his phone went unanswered. 

According to the latest government announcement, only those returnees who test positive on arrival will be placed in isolation centres.

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