Govt To Deploy More Health Personnel To Beitbridge Border Post As Coronavirus Spreads In South Africa
17 March 2020
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State Media|THE Government will deploy more manpower to Beitbridge Border Post to intensify screening and surveillance to detect and manage cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) as positive cases continue to increase in South Africa.

The move is meant to strengthen the current operational procedures and manage an anticipated increase in travellers after Pretoria closed 35 land ports yesterday as part of drastic measures to combat the pandemic.

The country has also issued a travel ban on those coming from highly infectious countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China.

Prior to the latest development, some travellers would use the closed ports of entries that go through Botswana or Mozambique to access Zimbabwe.

In an interview, Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Obadiah Moyo said he will soon be visiting Sadc’s busiest border post to ensure that everything is full proof.

The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo (2nd left), looks on as nurses screen visitors for coronavirus during a tour on the preparedness at Plumtree Border Post recently

Currently, Beitbridge Border Post handles 14 000 people daily (off-peak) and 38 000 daily (in peak times). By end of day on Monday the movement of people remained normal.

On the other hand, South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi told journalists on Monday that though they had closed 35 land ports, they were not going to shut down Beitbridge because it is the commercial hub of Sadc.

He said they were increasing capacity and resources to the ports which remain operational to avoid any leakages.

According to Dr Moyo, Zimbabwe cannot afford to relax considering that South Africa was the first country they share a land border with, which had recorded a number of positive cases.

“We are going to put more people to Beitbridge to strengthen the capacity in the event we have high volumes of traffic pushed by the closure of other borders which people previously used to access Zimbabwe.

“In addition, I am going to visit Beitbridge to check on the state of affairs again and boost capacity where need be.

“The travellers should bear with us because the screening process will now be more intense and it might take time for them to gain access into Zimbabwe through Beitbridge,” said Dr Moyo.

He said the port health section was working 24 hours a day at Beitbridge and hence it will be prudent to add more resources to boost the current interventions.

Dr Moyo urged Zimbabweans to continued employing some of the prevention methods to minimise infection among them personal hygiene and maintaining prescribed greetings etiquette.

The Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister, Cde Kazembe Kazembe said though multi-sectorial teams were hard at work at all borders, Government was on the lookout for security issues.

“We have deployed multi-sectorial teams to all ports of entries including Beitbridge and we are looking at allocating more manpower and resources when the need arises. We are working in unison with other line ministries,” said the Minister.

Zimbabwe has 26 ports of entries including small and major borders.

President of the International Cross-Border Traders Association (ICTA), Mr Dennis Juru said they will be deploying 200 voluntary health workers to Beitbridge to assist authorities.

“We would like to warn all our members and the generality of Cross-Border Travelers about the pandemic COVID-19(Corona Virus Disease-2019).

“Please avoid traveling and note that some of the borders are closed for visitors but opening for returning residents. In addition, we have deployed voluntary health workers in some borders across Africa with the target to deploy health workers in all African borders,” he said.