A total of 26 people who returned from Botswana and South Africa escaped from two quarantine centres in Matabeleland North last month raising fears of the spread of Covid-19.
Police have since arrested 11 of them at their respective homes in Binga and 15 are still on the run.
One woman allegedly escaped from Lupane State University quarantine centre and has not been located while the rest escaped from Mabhikwa High School, another quarantine facility in Lupane.
Giving an overview of the state of affairs at quarantine centres in the province, Matabeleland North Provincial Welfare Officer, Mr Macnon Chiripenzi said the escapees are from Lupane, Tsholotsho, Nkayi and Binga.
“There are five returnees who escaped yesterday (Friday) evening from Mabhikwa centre and this brings the cumulative total of those who escaped to 26. Eleven have been arrested and returned to the centre,” said Mr Chirinzepi.
Officer commanding Matabeleland North, Commissioner Charles Nhete said security services had increased surveillance at the centres.
“We have enhanced our security and deployed more police and army officers at quarantine centres while hunting for those who escaped.
“It is a criminal offence to escape from lawful custody in terms of the law hence people should abide by regulations with regards to quarantine,” he said.
Government has said it is a crime for anyone to harbour returnees who have not gone through the proper Covid-19 screening procedures.
Traditional leaders were urged to mobilise their communities to ensure that returnees return home after being quarantined.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Richard Moyo, who also chairs the provincial Covid-19 taskforce, yesterday urged members of the public to alert police about escapees and border jumpers. “As taskforce we have asked police to intensify the hunt for the escapees. We are also encouraging members of the public not to allow border jumpers or those who escape from quarantine centres into the community,” said Minister Moyo.