Zimbabwe: More Escape From Quarantine Centres

Two more returnees escaped from Covid-19 quarantine centres in Mashonaland East and Matabeleland North provinces on Tuesday last week as police intensified operations by arresting 1 191 people on the same day for violating lockdown regulations.

The total number of escapees is now 120 while those arrested for breaching lockdown regulations are now 42 929 since inception on March 30 this year.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said the two escaped from quarantine facilities at Mabhikwa High School in Matabeleland North and Marondera High School.

"This brings to 120, the total number of returnees who have escaped since the inception of the lockdown. However, 79 people have been arrested for entry by evasion and smuggling since May 16, 2020.

"We continue to urge members of the public to be vigilant and observe safety and security measures in order to safeguard themselves and others from the Covid-19 pandemic," he said.

Of the 1 191 arrested last Tuesday, most of them were making unnecessary movements and were not wearing masks.

Government recently gazetted a law compelling all people to wear face masks in public.

In terms of new health regulations, those who fail to wear face masks are liable to a $500 fine or imprisonment of up to one year.

Police this week said they were concerned about the high number of returnees who were escaping from quarantine centres as they were putting the lives of other people in danger.

The police also urged the public to be cautious before accepting any returnees and ensure that they go through the Covid-19 vetting process, which was being coordinated by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

The law prescribes that all returning residents be subjected to screening and testing, including 21-day mandatory quarantine.

Those who would have been quarantined are also subject to tests on day eight in quarantine and upon completion of the mandatory three-week isolation.

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe recently said some of the escapees were from Plumtree and Masvingo.

He said police and health authorities were looking for those who escaped from quarantine as they had committed a crime by violating the lockdown regulations.

Zimbabwe has received close to 4 000 returnees, mostly from South Africa and Botswana, over the past few weeks.

Recently, 19 people escaped from quarantine at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) Hotel in Beitbridge, with five others absconding mandatory quarantine at Rupangwana Isolation Centre in Chiredzi.

Beitbridge police have been pursuing the 19 escapees, while two of those who escaped from Chiredzi were arrested with three still on the run.

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