118 escape from isolation centres Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi

Herald Reporter
A total of 118 people have so far escaped from Covid-19 quarantine and isolation centres countrywide in separate incidents while police have arrested 41 738 people for violating lockdown regulations and the Liquor Act.

Some of the escapees have however, since been arrested.

In a statement yesterday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they were concerned with the high number of returnees who were escaping from isolation centres as they were putting the lives of other people in danger.

He urged the public to be cautious before accepting any returnees and ensure that they had gone through the Covid-19 vetting process, which was being coordinated by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

“The public should report people who are sneaking into suburbs, villages and other public areas without following laid down procedures. This includes those who are evading Customs and Excise entry points and using undesignated points to enter into the country.

“A total of 118 people have escaped from various isolation centres throughout the country since the onset of the national lockdown. Some have been arrested, while others are still being sought by the police,” he said.

“Police were closely working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure all those who escaped and those who were avoiding immigration formalities were brought to book.”

Recently, 19 people escaped from quarantine at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) Hotel in Beitbridge, with five others absconding mandatory quarantine at Rupangwana Isolation Centre in Chiredzi.

Beitbridge police have been pursuing the 19 escapees, while two of those who escaped from Chiredzi were arrested with three still on the run.

A combined 27 returnees had by last week, escaped from the NSSA Hotel quarantine centre since it started operating after the first group of eight disappeared in the first week, prompting authorities to beef up security.

It is understood that those who escaped were among people arrested for facilitating the smuggling of groceries and an assortment of goods along the Limpopo River.

This comes as police have arrested 41 738 people for violating lockdown regulations and the Liquor Act countrywide.

“Most of the arrests are of people making unnecessary movements, operating shebeens, operating businesses not exempted during the lockdown and failure to wear face masks, among other  offences.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police and other security services continue to urge the public to be health and security-conscious in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in a peaceful environment,” Asst-Comm Nyathi said.

Police had since set up numerous checkpoints and roadblocks across the country and introduced patrols targeting people and motorists breaching the lockdown rules.

On Sunday alone, 1 219 people were arrested in separate incidents countrywide and most of those arrested were in violation of movement restrictions.

Fourteen were arrested for liquor related offences, 43 under the Road Traffic Act, 68 for opening businesses without exemption letters, 754 for unnecessary movements, 15 for gathering, 274 for failing to wear masks and 61 for violating the Miscellaneous Offences Act.

Some of the offenders were fined amounts ranging between $200 and $500, while others are expected to appear in court soon.

Government recently gazetted a law compelling all people to wear face masks in public.

In terms of new health regulations, those who fail to wear face masks are liable to a $500 fine or imprisonment of up to one year.

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