THIRTY Zimbabweans returned home yesterday from major hotspots of COVID-19 and will be placed on isolation in Norton, government confirmed yesterday.
BY MOSES MATENGA
Government, however, said it was unable to account for its nationals killed by the deadly virus while outside the country after many Zimbabweans disclosed on social media that they had lost their relatives to the novel
The 30 flew into the country aboard an Ethiopian Airlines from mostly the United Kingdom and the United States, all hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic that has so far claimed over 116 000 lives globally, infecting close to two million people.
The US, especially New York, is now the epicentre of the COVID-19 globally, with 558 000 confirmed cases and
over 22 000 deaths, with The Big Apple accounting for more than 190 000 cases and over 10 000 deaths.
The UK has nearly 85 000 cases and 10 700 deaths.
“(Thirty) Zimbabweans arrived aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight today. They are coming from a number of different countries and all of them are being compulsorily quarantined at ZIPAM in Darwendale,” Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana tweeted yesterday.
Harare City Council health director Prosper Chonzi also confirmed the development, adding there had been different groups in the last few weeks coming in from different countries, including the UK.
“They are returning residents from all over, so they are not visitors coming for tourism or anything,” Chonzi said.
“The fact that they are returning residents means we have to shelter them and will not then have automatic entries to their families and communities.”
He said some had already been tested from where they were coming.
Chonzi said the returnees would be quarantined for three weeks.
“Before they go to quarantine, we test them. From the airport, they go to Wilkins (Infectious Diseases Hospital) and we check on them and to those symptomatic already, we do not let him or her go with the others. We monitor first,” he said.
Since last week, several Zimbabweans took to micro-blogging site Twitter to announce that they had lost their relatives, particularly in the UK, to COVID-19.
This followed the increase in numbers of Zimbabweans disclosing on social media that their relatives had died from COVID-19 while in foreign lands, especially in the UK.
But Mangwana said government did not have an account of Zimbabweans who have so far died in the UK or any other country.
“Besides what you get from the community itself, there is no system, unless somebody is registered with the embassy, then we would know,” he said.
“It is also the same as if a British citizen is to die right now, the British would not know unless somebody communicates with the embassy. Otherwise, that person would just die and is buried here.
“That is the situation that if the death is not registered by the embassy, wherever they are, we would not know.”
Health permanent secretary Agnes Mahomva said Zimbabwe was on high alert for its citizens coming from high risk countries, but has no statistics or record for those who would have died outside the country.
There are fears more Zimbabweans could be dying outside the country from the virus, but remain unaccounted for.
Zimbabwe has so far recorded three deaths from 14 infections, with five of the cases having a history of travelling to the United Kingdom, which had recorded about 11 329 deaths and 88 621 infections as of 5pm yesterday.
One of the three that have succumbed to COVID-19 in Zimbabwe is a 50-year-old male, who had travelled to the UK.
Locals who have lost their relatives in the diaspora due to COVID-19 have taken to social media to mourn their loved ones.
Among those who have died in the United Kingdom is microbiologist Paul Matewele (57), who succumbed to the deadly virus, and another, Rutendo Mukotsanjera, a mother of two, whose death was announced by musician Cindy Munyavi last week.
“Thank you for your prayers. Unfortunately, my cousin Rutendo didn’t make it. She was an amazing person. COVID-19 is such a harsh reality and it takes losing a loved one for one to realise what a monster it (COVID-19) is. Please stay at home, for your sake and others,” Munyavi wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Thandi Matho Thobela was also identified as another victim who died last week, with her relatives and friends taking to social media to announce her death, while socialite and accountant, Gardner Madzogo, was also reported as one of the casualties in the UK.
Former top model Sharon Sesemani Banda also took to social media over the weekend to announce the death of her sister who passed on in the UK after battling COVID-19.