Mishandling of corpse sparked Covid-19 outbreak in Lower Gweru

By Delicious Mathuthu 

The mishandling of a body that was repatriated from South Africa caused the outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent deaths in two villages in Lower Gweru in July this year. 

Several people from Lushizheni and Dufuya villages in Lower Gweru died while others suffered  from Covid-19 related complications after they attended the funeral of a Zimbabwean who had been based in South Africa, died of Covid-19 complications.

The villages under Chief Sogwala ( at the time of writing this story), had no health centres that offer Covid-19 testing services, a situation that  exacerbated the situation.

Sibongile Sibanda, a villager who attended the Lushizheni funeral, said people that gathered for the burial were more than the 30 specified under the current lockdown regulations.

“There were 150 or more people at that funeral and it was difficult to keep social distancing.

“Just a few days after the funeral, about 10 villagers who had attended that burial, tested positive for the corona virus.

 Two others, one from the Sibanda homestead in Mbizo village, Dufuya and another from the Lunga homestead in Donki village and Lushizheni died from Covid-19,” said Sibanda.

Most of the villagers in Dufuya and Lushizheni areas, at the time of the writing of this story,  said they travelled as far as Bulawayo and Gweru to get Covid-19 testing services.

Elvis Mbiba, the councillor for the area, attributed the outbreak of Covid-19 in the villages to the mishandling of a body that was repatriated from South Africa.

” When this Covid-19 situation started I was away in Bulawayo,” Moyo said.

“So, when I got back I heard that there were people, who opened a casket that came from South Africa and after that some people developed Covid-19 symptoms.” 

He added: “Many of the sick were taken to hospitals in Gweru and Bulawayo, but one of them died  …  

“He was the second person to die of the disease, but most of them are recovering.” 

Moyo said they were doing their best as leaders to educate villagers about the disease. 

He said the local MP, Omega Sibanda, and Health and Child Care conducted an outreach programme in the two villagers to increase awareness about Covid-19.

Zimbabwe’s rural communities face increased risks of contracting Covid-19 during the third wave of the outbreak of the pandemic due to lack of information and non-enforcement of regulations to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

In the Midlands, the villagers said they have no access to mainstream media, the medium which the government and non-governmental organisations uses to educate people about the disease.

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