Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Cross-border travellers who used the Beitbridge Border Post in the last four days should go into self-quarantine, following the detection of 104 Covid-19 positive cases during screening and testing at the border, says South Africa’s Department of Health in Limpopo Province.
An average of 6 000 travellers have been using the border daily during the just-ended festive season.
Before the outbreak of Covid-19, 15 000 people were using the border and the number would spike to 30 000 daily during peak periods.
Travellers entering South Africa are being screened at the foot of the New Limpopo Bridge, while those entering Zimbabwe and not cleared by very recent tests are tested at the National Social Security (NSSA) Hotel, which is being used as a quarantine, isolation and transit centre.
The hotel is used to process returnees who arrive by road from Eswatini, Lesotho and South Africa. Presently, there are 55 returnees who came from South Africa that tested positive for Covid-19 and are at the NSSA isolation centre.
Among them are 42 men and 13 women.
It is said most of those infected could have contracted Covid-19 while awaiting screening at the foot and mouth checkpoint in South Africa.
Since Sunday, multitudes of people have been packed at the no-man’s land awaiting screening to get into South Africa, where health officials appeared to have been overwhelmed.
Due to limited Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing facilities in Musina and Beitbridge, some cross-border travellers are now being tested for rapid antigens at a mobile laboratory at the South African border.
In a media statement, the Department of Health said the cases rose due to the crowding of travellers at the border for longer periods.
“The Limpopo Department of Health is calling upon all people coming to South Africa through the Beitbridge Border Post to self-quarantine before interacting with others upon arrival at their destinations.
“This is after 104 people tested positive at the port of entry during the past four days. With thousands of people stuck at the port for days while waiting for their entry into the country to be processed, the department is worried that the events at the border are fast becoming a super spreader,” said the Department.
Limpopo Provincial Government’s Member of the Executive Council (MEC) responsible for Health matters, Dr Phophi Ramathuba said it was very critical for travellers to adhere to the prescribed Covid-19 management protocols.
“Considering the incubation period of the virus, we wish to implore those who will be crossing from Beitbridge to do the right thing and self-quarantine because they have been exposed to a potential super spreader,” she said.