Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
MATABELELAND South Province has identified 15 new quarantine centres and $26 million is required for renovations so that returnees are moved out of educational institutions to pave way for re-opening of schools and universities.
Presenting a progress report on the establishment of Covid-19 quarantine and isolation centres during a meeting on Sunday, Matabeleland South Provincial Public Works Director Mr Sijabuliso Ncube said the 15 centres have a total capacity of 1 651 beds.
He said work that need to be done to get the quarantine centres fully operational include water, sewer, electricity connections, perimeter fencing, construction of toilets and bathrooms, electrical and carpentry plumbing repairs, tents to extend quarantine centres and partitioning of halls for privacy.
“We have a challenge now as schools are going to be opened and most of the quarantine and isolation facilities which we were using are going to be relieved of those works. We have identified a number of facilities with a total cost of $26,5 million which we have earmarked for alternative accommodation and we are in the process of setting up and refurbishing these new Covid-19 quarantine centres,” he said.
“The centres that we have identified include churches, community halls, training centres among others. We have identified five in Insiza, one each in Beitbridge, Bulilima, Mangwe and Matobo Districts, four in Gwanda and two in Umzingwane District. We are also in the process of refurbishing wards at hospitals to make all isolation and quarantine centres usable and this is at various stages. For now, we are working on the Beitbridge District Hospital female ward which has a capacity of 48 beds, Gwanda Provincial Hospital eye unit with 28 beds and Plumtree District Hospital TB ward with a capacity of 30 wards.”
Mr Ncube said the major outstanding works which remain include creation of an ICU at the Gwanda Provincial Unit isolation centre and installing medical gas piping at the three institutions.
Speaking during the same meeting, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu who is part of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on the Covid-19 outbreak commended the province for identifying more quarantine centres and urged stakeholders to come up with strategies of financing the projects.
“I’m glad that you are working on identifying more quarantine centres. The reality is that schools will be opening soon and when it happens all those under quarantine in education institutions will have to be moved. We need to identify more of these places as Matabeleland South as we are more exposed as a border province,” he said.
“We might not get money from Government to renovate these facilities and therefore we have to come up with strategies on how best we can come up with money for these projects.”
Minister Ndlovu said there was need for the province to come up with a target for quarantine facilities needed in each district, their capacity and when they were supposed to be completed and fully operational. He also urged the province to identify problems which had arisen as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak such as price increases, food insecurity and border jumping and identify strategies on how best to deal with them.
“Matabeleland South Province is a border province and there are so many problems that have arisen with closing of borders. What can we do to mitigate against increase in food insecurity caused by closing of borders, the rampant increase of prices and cases of smuggling and border jumping which pose a threat to the health status of the province,” he said.