Zimbabwe: Covid-19 Under Control in Schools

Senior Reporter

Almost all of the 600 learners who tested positive for Covid-19 in the last two months have fully recovered and have been removed from isolation save for 40 who are in Matabeleland North.

The 40 who are still in isolation are at George Silundika High School where 46 learners were isolated nearly two weeks ago.

Matabeleland North provincial medical director Dr Munekai Padingani said six learners had recovered and the rest were still in the isolation centres created at the school.

"This year only one school was affected by Covid-19 outbreak (George Silundika) and 46 learners were infected. All are isolated at school using dormitories as isolation centres.

"We have recorded six recoveries so far," he said.

He said everyone at George Silundika had been tested for Covid-19 following the outbreak and authorities had separated infected learners from the rest of the learners.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care also installed a satellite clinic at the school to ensure easy access to health care.

Dr Padingani said movement of learners and staff had also been restricted while no visits were permitted at the school and the Ministry was making daily follow ups on the infected learners.

However, in Matabeleland South more than 400 learners who tested positive to Covid-19 have all recovered and have been removed from isolation.

Matabeleland South provincial medical director Dr Rudo Chikodzore said 156 learners at Embakwe High School and 252 learners at Sacred Heart Primary and High Schools had all been removed from isolation.

"At Embakwe, we had a total of 156 cases including 1 staff member. There were no hospitalisations and no deaths recorded. All cases were put in isolation and discharged. Currently there are no active cases at the school.

"At Sacred Heart, we also do not have active cases. Those who tested positive were de-isolated two weeks ago," she said.

Dr Chikodzore said the Ministry had been working on strengthening the infection prevention measures put in place following the rise in cases at the end of March.

She said health teams that had been activated were now on high alert, especially with the approaching winter season, to detect any disease among learners and the surrounding communities.

"We have a partner who is assisting us to do an assessment on preparedness of boarding schools to respond to Covid-19. All our teams have heightened their surveillance systems especially as we approach winter.

"This is how we managed to contain the outbreak in schools. Everyone is hands on to make sure that things return to normal," she said.

Dr Chikodzore said the health teams had also increased Covid-19 education in schools and surrounding communities working with the Schools Development Committees and the provincial development committee.

At St David's High School (Bonda), all 216 learners and seven staff who had tested positive for the disease had been removed from isolation. Manicaland Anglican Diocesan secretary Reverend Edmond Samutereko said the situation was back to normal at the school.

"There are no more Covid-19 cases at Bonda at the moment.

"All the learners have fully recovered and started their lessons. Everything is now back to normal," he said.

The elimination of Covid-19 in schools comes as the institutions are preparing to commence lower sixth form classes following the release of Ordinary Level results by Zimsec last week.

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education have been on a drive to intensify enforcement of the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) in all schools as part of measures to control the spread of the pandemic.

Handshakes, hugs and sharing of desks in schools are prohibited under the SOPs while break and lunch time are staggered to prevent crowding.

Sporting activities have been banned and classrooms are only allowed to accommodate a maximum of 35 pupils to allow social distancing.

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