Twenty-two members of two families in Lupane have been quarantined after they failed to notify authorities about their two relatives who illegally returned into the country from South Africa and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.
They include six adults and 16 children aged between 11 months and 16 years.
Seventeen are members of a Sibanda family which was taken to Mabhikwa High School quarantine centre on Saturday after a relative who had returned from South Africa evaded screening processes.
The other five are members of the Ngwenya family that was quarantined on Monday after their relative, who is a son-in-law to the Sibandas, tested positive.
The two illegal returnees have since been isolated at St Luke’s Hospital while their family members at Mabhikwa High School wait to be tested.
Matabeleland North provincial social welfare officer Mr Macnon Chirinzepi said an anonymous tip-off was reportedly made to authorities that the two were back home and suspected not to have gone through screening processes. They were both taken to the quarantine centre where they tested positive.
“Mabhikwa quarantine centre has 22 community members from Malunku Village who have been in contact with persons who tested positive for Covid-19 and had previously joined the community without being tested,” said Mr Chirinzepi.
He said they will be tested after the mandatory eight days, a period when any quarantined person gets tested for the novel coronavirus.
Mabhikwa High School so far has five confirmed cases.
“The two came back illegally from South Africa and went to their villages. After their presence became known one was taken to the quarantine centre where he tested positive. His brother-in-law who had come to visit his ex-wife was also taken and tested positive.
“The Sibanda family members were taken into quarantine on June 20 and because the second man had also gotten into contact with his family, five members of his family were also taken on Monday. They are all at Mabhikwa waiting to be tested after eight days,” said Mr Chirinzepi.
He said as per procedure, if they test negative, they will be discharged but will be further isolated if they test positive.
Mr Chirinzepi warned members of the community against habouring border jumpers saying they risk being quarantined with them in terms of the country’s laws.
He encouraged people to be on the lookout for border jumpers.
“We encourage members of the community to make sure our returning relatives coming from outside the country have gone through the quarantine processes or show their certificates to community leaders such as village heads or even chiefs.
“This is good for both parties because habouring border jumpers exposes everyone to the dangers of Covid-19.
Being quarantined also affects our livelihoods because if we are all quarantined, no one will take care of our homesteads and livestock for that period,” said Mr Chirinzepi.
The 22 bring to 32 the number of people at Mabhikwa High School.
Early this month, six people, four members of the same family in Victoria Falls were quarantined in separate incidents.
The family of four was quarantined after failing to notify authorities about its 17-year-old daughter and five-year-old grandson who illegally returned into the country from South Africa.
The other two separately entered from South Africa and Namibia. They have all been discharged.