Border officials at Beitbridge are fully implementing the new Covid-19 screening protocols in line with Statutory Instrument 267 of 2021 although the volume of human traffic remains low and some people are escaping quarantine and isolation centres.
It is understood that many people are using the illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River where the National Security Task Force (NTF) continues to round up irregular migrants and smugglers.
Beitbridge District Medical Officer (DMO), Dr Lenos Samhere, yesterday said although they had realigned their screening processes with the new regulations, they were worried at the level of absconding at the local quarantine centre.
“We are screening and testing travellers as required, but you will note that there is very low volume of traffic coming through the border,” said Dr Samhere.
“As per standing rules, those who would have been out of the country for more than 14 days are tested and then allowed to quarantine (for 10 days) at selected approved facilities.
“Those testing positive, we put them into isolation for medical attention, and those who would have been out of the country for less than 14 days are allowed to self-quarantine at their homes subject to inspections by our Port Health teams.”
Dr Samhere added that some lodges around Beitbridge district, which were previously approved as quarantine facilities, have expressed interest to offer services.
By end of day yesterday, Port Health officials were seen screening mostly truck drivers and light vehicle cross-border transporters.
As it stands, truck drivers are subject to produce a Covid-19 clearance certificate valid for not more than 30 days, while crossborder transporters should have certificates not exceeding two-weeks validity.
Visitors and returning residents are expected to produce a negative PCR Covid-19 clearance certificate valid for not more than 48 hours, subject to other tight screening measures.
The Beitbridge Quarantine, Transit and Isolation Centre has an approved carrying capacity of 150 people on quarantine and 70 on isolation.
The Herald is reliably informed that a number of those being put on mandatory quarantine, mostly deported citizens, are escaping under the cover of darkness.
Over 100 people, some of whom had tested positive for Covid-19 are reported to have escaped from the facility in the past week.