The rapid spread of coronavirus infections in educational institutions threatens the 2021 school calendar with schools scheduled to open for the second term on 28 June.
Several educational institutions, among them Harare Polytechnic College and Dambudzo Primary School in Mbizo high-density suburb, Kwekwe, have recorded deaths and a rise in infections.
One person died at Harare Polytechnic early this week, while another was reported dead at the Kwekwe school.
At Harare Polytechnic, fourteen members of staff reportedly tested positive during routine testing.
Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Solwayo Ngwenya recently said the closure of schools might have sparked an increase in cases in the country.
Ngwenya stated that the current third wave was spreading faster as there could be other highly infectious variants coming from Brazil, India, UK and South Africa. Said Ngwenya:
This current wave was predicted and was mainly caused by the closure of schools. Schools have been super-spreaders of the virus and I suspect when schools closed, a lot of infections came into the communities.
Generally, children are not very sick and probably they have been carrying the virus around and now it’s all over.
We could also be having a lot of variants coming from countries such as Brazil, the United Kingdom, India and South
The UK government recently said the Delta variant, originally detected in India, was 60 per cent more transmissible than the SARS-CoV-2. Ngwenya contended that there is a need for more testing. He said:
These variants are different from the first and second wave. One person can infect a lot of people and the infections will continue to rise.
These areas have been identified as hotspots, but I suspect COVID-19 is all over the place and not in one place.
It’s a matter of testing more people. If we test more people, you will find COVID-19 all over the place.
The hotspots show that it will even spread more from those areas further to other areas that are not yet hotspots.
Meanwhile, Kariba, Karoi, Makonde and Kwekwe have been put under localised lockdowns. Mhangura, Chinhoyi, Chidamoyo (Mash west) Masvingo District, Chiredzi (Masvingo Province) Nkulumane, Emakhandeni and Northern Suburbs (Bulawayo), and Mt Darwin (Mash Central) have been classified as hotspots.