Border skipping returnees a risk to us all
Leroy Dzenga Features Writer
There have been reports that truck drivers are smuggling returnees from neighbouring countries.
Using their familiarity and friendships formed over the years, truck drivers are finding it easy to bypass health and security officials at borders.
They are using trickery in delivering their dangerous consignment.
One truck driver said they are getting what would ordinarily be enough airfare from South Africa to Zimbabwe.
“People are willing to pay as much as US$150 to come back home.
“If I bring two people every week, I get US$300 a week.
“I can manage to finish my house,” one truck driver said.
One observation though was most of the people reaching out to truck drivers for “assistance” are youthful.
Some who had gone to look for greener pastures in foreign lands saw their plans being thrown in disarray by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Being far from home without guarantees of your next meal is difficult, this is why even the closure of borders has left a window open for returnees.
All governments across the globe have not closed out citizens as there is no better place than home in times of crisis.
In Zimbabwe’s case, there has been State-funded quarantine upon return.
This helps authorities have an idea on the scale of the disease and apply mitigation strategies based on accuracy.
A national response devoid of intricate data may not yield intended results.
People sneaking into the country outside Government radar are threatening to dislodge Zimbabwe’s good standing against the Covid-19 disease which had otherwise been well handled.
As travellers return home, there is need to rewrite some of the unwritten pacts in our society.
These are not normal times.
It takes a village to raise a child, but the same village risks being wiped to extinction if it lets people return under dubious circumstances.
Communities should demand to see documentation confirming returnees having been satisfied to leave quarantine centres.
When there is opacity, it is in the community’s best interest that it alerts authorities.
This is key for a number of reasons.
Covid-19 is a disease with no precedent.
What it means is there is no concrete knowledge on its progression, this is why countries are being affected differently.
One thing that is for certain, there is a real threat of health systems being overwhelmed.
No country in the world has been able to fully prepare for the virus and the subsequent disease, health systems have been put under pressure.
China had to expeditiously build hospitals, Italy was pressurised to the extent doctors had to decide on helping younger people affected by the disease instead of the elderly.
Our health system was in the process of finding its feet again when this pandemic happened.
This means a sustained Covid-19 assault may have casualties.
There have been efforts to beef up existing hospitals, but even that may not be enough in the event of a full-scale Covid-19 outbreak.
Authorities are currently seeking resources, working with numbers currently under their watch.
For example, if the disease spreads in Mufakose because Joe from Polokwane decided to be deviant, it means the resources may not meet demand in time of need.
The same applies to those who are running away from quarantine centres after admission, they are not doing themselves, their loved ones and their community any favours.
If anything, there should be a law that criminalises evading quarantine and keeping quiet knowing that someone did not go through the necessary checks.
This is the only way the country can navigate the risk brought forward by returnees.
With the way Covid-19 is highly infectious, silence can be fatal.
This is not to suggest that all returnees are infected, results have shown that most of them do not have coronavirus, which causes Covid-19.
But health interventions cannot be subject to expediency.
Of course, there have been concerns over some of the quarantine facilities, but it would be a miscalculation if we prioritise one’s comfort over public health.
Government is awake to the concerns in quarantine, this led to them inviting private players to provide their own facilities to those with the capacity to pay.
They even reduced days for mandatory quarantine in facilities, citizens can now do eight days in a Government facility and the remaining 13 days are done at home.
With all these compromises, time has come for citizens to meet Government halfway and play their part.
They should alert people who return under opaque circumstances, alert authorities through toll free numbers 2019 and 2023.
Keeping quiet in times like these can be fatal in that probability dictates that the virus spreads within its surrounding environs.
The closer someone is to those infected, the higher their chances of contracting the disease.
Not to say everyone returning from the Diaspora is infected, a lot of people have come out of quarantine and have self-isolated at home until they reach the 21-day mark.
It simply is in the best interest of the country that people use designated entry points and follow due diligence as is required by law.
Youths ought to know better or the revered access to information may be going to waste.