Sixty-five Zimbabweans returning from the United Kingdom yesterday refused compulsory quarantine at Belvedere Technical Teacher’s College citing “poor conditions”, and preferred to be checked into a hotel instead but they were kept there overnight while there is possible transfer to the University of Zimbabwe today.
According to Government officials dealing with the returnees, they knew that Zimbabwe wanted compulsory quarantine for everyone coming from Covid-19 hotspots, but they were expecting “something better”.
Some offered to meet own accommodation expenses at preferred places. In an interview last night, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Secretary Mr Simon Masanga said alternative accommodation could only be arranged today.
This was the first time the Government had challenges with returnees on accommodation.
Over 1 000 other people have been quarantined so far.
The Government says it will continue looking for more facilities across the country to use for compulsory quarantine.
The stance taken by the 65 people received mixed feelings from most locals, with a majority supporting continued compulsory quarantine of all returning residents if Zimbabwe was to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 through imported cases.
The United Kingdom has extended visas to May 31, 2020, for all foreigners who could not leave the country due to travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus.
Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana yesterday said Government could not afford “posh facilities” for returnees.
“We received 65 Zimbabweans from the UK. Available place of quarantine is Belvedere Teacher’s College. They are refusing this accommodation demanding hotels. Government can’t afford.
“Why come from a Covid-19 hotspot during a lockdown and demand posh facilities at stretched public cost,” said Mr Mangwana on his Twitter handle.
Already, two returnees, one from France and another from the UK in compulsory quarantine facilities, have since tested positive.
Latest statistics show that UK and France are in the top 10 of the world’s most affected countries.