OWEN MATAVA in Harare
One of the largest organisation of teachers, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has revealed shocking details regarding the poor state of preparedness towards the fight against Covid 19 infections in schools amid claims that 50 percent of the learning institutions have been hard hit by the pandemic, midlandsnews can reveal.
In a media statement Wednesday morning, PTUZ President, Dr Takavafira Zhou called on the government to move in with speed to avert what he called a Covid 19 genocide in Zimbabwe schools following reports of serious shortages of Covid 19 tests kits as reports of infections are reportedly on the rise.
“We said it before and would say it now that it was suicidal to open schools without concrete plans to combat Covid 19. That we chose to ignore professional advice, we now can’t choose to ignore designing an intervention plan in affected schools in particular and other schools in general.
“The honest truth is that there are covid cases in almost more than 50% of our schools and if we don’t find an agent intervention plan we may fail to contain the spread of covid 19 in schools”, said Dr Zhou.
Dr Zhou says if schools affected had testing kits, Zimbabe could be having high figures even beyond 300 in some schools.
Some of the schools that have recorded the new cases of Covid 19 are, 1. Chegato High (Mberengwa – Midlands), 60 out of 115 students tested.
2. Gutu High, (Gutu), 52
3. Masase High (Mberengwa – Midlands), 40
4. Bulu High, 33
5. Mnene High, (Mberengwa), 13
6. Daramombe, 13
7. Neshangwe High (Mash East), 12 out of 36 tested.
8. Msume High (Mberengwa), 7 out of only 12 students tested
9. Tongwe High (Mat South)
10. Kristie Mambo (Rusape – Manicaland)
11. Nyamhuka Primary (Manicaland) etc
12. Chemhanza High
According to Dr Zhou, these low figures are simply reflective of the shortage of testing kits than low infections.
“Almost every boarding School has an infection. Conglomeration in schools without testing teachers, students and ancillary staff was a great mistake committed by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
“Shortage of covid abatenent equipment and running water are real in schools, so likewise are bloated classes and congested hostels. The earlier government embarks on a testing regime of students, teachers and ancillary staff at all affected schools, the better and then move to a second phase of similar testing at all boarding schools and third phase of targeting all schools, and vaccination of all willing teachers and students above 15 years”, he added.
Dr Zhou says as much as students’ recovery rate is commendable, they remain vectors of covid transmission to their parents and relatives so much that the country will have a quantum leap of covid cases if there are no intervention plans.
He said a national intervention plan is long overdue.
“The time for a comprehensive intervention plan is now. There is also urgent need to assist schools affected in terms of management of quarantine centres within a school, fumigation, covid abatement equipment, provision of tents, drilling of boreholes, feeding system, provision of food, health management, and psychological therapy to both students and teachers, among many other things,” he said.
Dr Zhou says the PTUZ hopes that these schools without a direct ear to the president would receive the best assistance even from the President.
He also challenged the Ministry spokesperson, Taungana Ndoro to stop the issuance of what he termed misleading statements regarding the current Covid 19 statistic in schools.