THE government must seriously reconsider the way it has been running the coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine centres following unflattering remarks carried in a recent United Nations report.
Although the report raised the red flag over a raft of issues, including massive looting of funds by government officials and people linked to the political elite, the grim picture it painted of isolation centres seems to justify why a number of people had fled the centres.
The fact that the centres are generally inhabitable in as much as they are not five-star hotels — in the reckless words of one minister — the least they could be is habitable.
Surely, this is not too much to ask for!
The UN sentiments that the deplorable state of the quarantine facilities and lack of standard operating procedures have put thousands of lives at risk means that we need to go back to the drawing board and make the necessary investments into these centres so that they can fully serve their purposes.
As of now, it is a sad situation that will contribute very little, if anything at all, to the ongoing fight against the spread of COVID-19.
It is essential that these centres must operate optimally if they are to be effective.
The authorities need to address this issue as a matter of urgency given that returning citizens, many of whom occupy these centres, have accounted for the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
The way we treat these will have an overall effect on the country’s COVID-19 statistics.
It is unfortunate that some unscrupulous and shift characters in government or linked to it have found an opportunity to milk the situation and line their pockets when there is need to invest significant amounts of money into upgrading these facilities to ensure they operate optimally.
The fact that the UN expressed concern over lack of minimum requirements, guidance on infection prevention and control at these facilities simply means government is not taking this issue as seriously as it should.
It is shocking that a quarantine centre would not ensure adherence to social distancing, standard hygiene, adequate staff and medical care, as is the case at these centres, implying that a significant number of returning citizens might actually contract the virus at these centres.
That cannot be ruled out given the situation obtaining on the ground. Government needs to wake up and do the right thing as a matter of urgency.