By Sukuoluhle Ndlovu
The Masvingo Provincial Covid-19 Taskforce has engaged university and college heads in the province to help craft strategies to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Following a high profile story of nine Covid-19 cases at Bondolfi Teachers College, and fears the country was about to suffer a third wave, the taskforce convened a meeting with the principals and vice chancellors in Masvingo town to review and revamp the province’s plan.
According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, 231 tests were conducted in the province and 37 were positive; six from Masvingo, 30 from Chiredzi and one from Chivi as of June 15.
Chiredzi under lockdown
Meanwhile, the government has since declared Chiredzi district a Covid-19 hotspot and has been placed under a localised lockdown, along a dozen other districts and townships across the country.
The Masvingo Provincial Covid -19 Taskforce spokesperson, Rodgers Irimayi, said there was need to engage tertiary institutions as many cases in the area were emanating from colleges.
Cases in the province were rising daily and there was need to intensify the fight against the spread of the virus, targeting colleges from which the highest number of cases were being recorded.
Bondolfi after outbreak
The Principal of Bondolfi Teachers College, Kizito Chitsama, said since the outbreak at the college travelling of students has been restricted.
“Our institution has more than 600 students, they are allowed to travel home to visit their families now and then but due to the outbreak of Covid -19, travelling has been restricted in and out of the campus.”
Despite these restrictions, communities still interact with students which then put everyone at risk. The porosity of the institution provides an opportunity for the spread of the virus.
To restrict unnecessary movement, the college was regularly checking on absenteeism and imposing fines on those who flouted the regulations. “Lack of finances does not permit the institution to test the students as they come in,” Chitsama said.
Masvingo Polytechnic housing 600
Callisto Muzongondi, the Masvingo Polytechnic College Principal, said they were doing their best to help the nation in the fight against Covid -19.
“We had an enrollment of over 3,650 of which 600 are residents at the institution. Measure are being taken including temperature checks at the gate, encouraging of masking up and social distancing as well as sanitising.
“Rooms and offices are disinfected regularly,” he said.
Masvingo Teachers College Principal Benson Mutambudzi said the college’s biggest challenge was that many students preferred to stay out of campus because it was cheaper for them, and the college had no control over their movement or facilities.
teaching the student teachers
Mutambudzi said that the teacher’s college has 618 students, and the college leadership was ramping up its Covid-19 awareness campaign and the enforcement of Covid-19 control protocols on campus.
The Great Zimbabwe University Dean of students, Sarafina Mudavanhu, said they were also taking similar measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, and had started liaising and working with private landlords offering accommodation to students to also enforce Covid-19 management protocols.
“We are taking measures among the staff and students,” she said.
“An emergency service unit has been established. Daily fumigation is done in all buildings even in the labs. Enough fumigants are in store. Masking up is a must, anyone caught on the wrong side goes through a disciplinary hearing and pays a fine,” she added.
working with private landlords
Landlords accommodating GZU students were registered with the college and regular meetings and inspections were being held with them to help the university to monitor the welfare of students, she said
Mudavanhu said the university campus radio was also being used extensively to spread the message on Covid -19.
At the taskforce’s meeting with college heads, the district medical officer, Dr. Muskwe, urged colleges and universities to adopt more e-learning as much as possible to reduce student numbers at campuses as part of the fight against Covid-19.
Irimayi said that there is need to activate awareness campaigns as the situation now requires double effort to ensure citizens are aware of the situation we are facing.