by JAIROS SAUNYAMA
THE Marondera Municipality yesterday allayed fears of a massive spread of COVID-19 emanating from Proton Bakeries headquarters in the dormitory town, saying that the situation was under control after more than 10 workers tested positive to the respiratory virus recently.
The company employs more than 1 000 workers at its headquarters in Marondera.
Recently, social media reports claimed that more than 40 workers at the company had tested positive to the coronavirus, hence the sharp rise in the number of people infected with COVID-19 in the farming town.
A team from the provincial medical director’s office and the municipality’s health department visited the company’s premises on Wednesday for inspection.
According to a report dated January 13, 2021 compiled by the Marondera environmental health manager Tonderai Parayiwa, which is in possession of NewsDay, only 18 workers at the company tested positive to COVID-19.
“Contrary to social media reports, Proton has recorded 18 cases out of the 1 000 workers, giving a positivity rate of 1,8%. They (Proton) were advised to make a thorough screening of suspected cases for early detection. They were also advised to increase awareness so that they promote early treatment-seeking behaviour,” read the report.
The report also revealed that the company was following health guidelines among them, regular disinfection of the premises and its equipment.
The visit by the health officials came after residents demanded the shut down of the company following a spike in COVID-19 cases in that town.
In a statement yesterday, the former Marondera Central legislator Caston Matewu (MDC Alliance) criticised the company, accusing it of not valueing the lives of its workers.
“I have been talking to various employees who say that they are still being told to come to shifts and do their jobs despite the spread of the pandemic at the workplace. Worse still, most of these workers have not been tested. Senior managers are given risk allowances while the rest of the workers suffer. This is an indication of corporate greed.
“By allowing Proton Bakeries to remain open, they are now the biggest COVID-19 super-spreader in our town. The hundreds of people employed at the bakery interact with their families and the rest of the Marondera community and, therefore, they have the propensity to spread the disease to the rest of the town,” Matewu said.