Authorities yesterday intensified the enforcement of Covid-19 control measures with police impounding buses that were operating illegally, while the Judicial Service Commission announced the closure of seven magistrates courts across the country as cases continue soaring.
In Mashonaland West Province, where several districts have been placed under localised lockdown after being declared Covid-19 hotspots, some pirate taxis and at least nine intercity buses including two Zupco buses, were impounded by police and parked at Chinhoyi Central Police Station for flouting lockdown regulations.
Drivers of the pirate taxis plying the Chinhoyi-Karoi, Chinhoyi-Mhangura, Chinhoyi-Harare and Chinhoyi-Chegutu routes were arrested.
Speaking at an emergency provincial Civil Protection Unit (CPU) meeting attended by representatives from key Government departments, police officer commanding Mashonaland West (Operations), Assistant Commissioner Martin Nyirenda said they had intensified enforcement of lockdown regulations along highways resulting in the arrest of many violators.
"As police, we are conducting patrols and as we speak, along the Harare-Chirundu highway, we have nine long-distance and intercity buses that have been impounded and are currently at Chinhoyi Central Police Station.
"Among these buses include two Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (Zupco) buses that were operating intercity routes against Covid-19 regulations. We are not allowing intercity buses to cross these hotspot districts," he said.
Assistant Commissioner Nyirenda said apart from enforcing lockdown regulations, police were also conducting joint awareness campaigns with various stakeholders and other uniformed forces to promote compliance with regulations.
Provincial development coordinator and CPU chairperson, Mr Josphat Jaji said: "We noticed that from the Covid-19 fatalities that the province recorded, all people were not vaccinated. Provincial heads should lead by example by taking the jab to lessen the severity of the virus," he said.
It was also revealed at the meeting that at least 15 deportees from Zambia were not tested at Chirundu border post because of the unavailability of kits, thereby exposing social welfare officers that transport them to repatriation and quarantine centres to Covid-19.
However, provincial health services administrator, Mr Godwin Tauya said the two border towns of Kariba and Chirundu had now been fully stocked.
JSC secretary Mr Walter Chikwana said Covid-19 positive cases had been confirmed at Chinhoyi, Karoi, Kariba Bindura, Mount Darwin and Mutare magistrates courts as well as the Mutare High Court.
"We are currently in the process of consulting with the Ministry of Health and Child Care on the way forward. Meanwhile, we are closing these seven court houses for purposes of fumigation, testing of staff and contact tracing of all the people who may have come into contact with the cases.
"Litigants and legal practitioners who may want to file any papers at these courts may get in touch with the registrar, resident magistrate, additional sheriff or assistant master on duty. Their numbers will be displayed at the respective court houses," he said.
He added that the public would be advised when the concerned courts would re-open.
A lecturer at Kwekwe Polytechnic on Tuesday succumbed to Covid-19 while 45 students and two other lecturers at the institution tested positive for the deadly disease.
Kwekwe District Covid-19 taskforce chairperson, Mr Vitalis Kwashira confirmed the developments saying they have since recommended the suspension of lectures at the institution to allow close monitoring.
"Following the recorded death and a surge in positive cases at the institution, we have written to the relevant departments and we also recommended that the college be temporarily closed so that we can be able to conduct contact tracing.
"The idea is that if we close down the place, we are able to isolate those who tested positive at the institution. It is almost impossible to manage the situation if lessons continue to be conducted," said Mr Kwashira.
In Masvingo, the provincial Covid-19 taskforce started contact tracing and testing of Masvingo Polytechnic students after three students tested positive for the novel virus.
Provincial Medical Director Dr Amadeous Shamu said plans were afoot to make the polytechnic an isolation facility for students who tested positive for the virus.
Dr Shamu pointed out that the three students who tested positive were non-resident learners but would be quarantined at the college.
"We are currently testing more students as we do contact tracing after three students tested positive for Covid-19 but I cannot disclose the exact number of students we are going to test," said Dr Shamu.
"We are in the process of making Masvingo Polytechnic an isolation centre for both resident and non-resident students who test positive for Covid-19."
Zimbabwe on Tuesday recorded six Covid-19 deaths and 519 new cases as the surge in new infections continues.
This brings the total number of deaths since March last year to 1 691 and a total of 3 735 active cases.
With the continued increase in new cases, Government has put 12 more hotspot areas under localised lockdown to try and contain the disease.
Most of the new cases were recorded in the areas classified as hotspots with Kariba recording 65 cases, Karoi (60), Chinhoyi and Kwekwe (51).
Other areas under lockdown like Mhondoro, Kazangare in Mashonaland West, Chiredzi, Nkulumane, Emakhandeni and Northern Suburbs in Bulawayo also reported more cases.
According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care Situation Report, as at June 22, the positivity rate went up 8 percent and the case fatality rate stood at 4 percent.
"As of June 21, 2021, at 1500hrs, there were 159 hospitalised cases: Asymptomatic 40, mild to moderate 75, severe 38 and 6 in Intensive Care Units," the ministry said.