Candid Comment by Nevanji Madanhire
Government made a very curious announcement on Tuesday. It announced that travellers from countries afflicted with the Covid-19 variant Delta will no longer be quarantined upon arrival in Zimbabwe.
In her routine post-Cabinet briefing, Minister of Information Monica Mutsvangwa said considering that 98% of Covid-19 cases in Zimbabwe are of the Delta variant, there was no longer any need to quarantine travellers from countries afflicted with the variant such as India. She didn’t explain the science of this but it is definitely a wrong move to make. Of late Covid-19 infections have been falling and this could be attributed mainly to the measures the government has taken such as the quarantining of travellers from countries on the red list.
The fact that 98% of the people getting inflicted with the coronavirus now are getting the Delta variant does not justify letting into the country potential carriers of the strain unless the country has found a way to control or treat that particular variant. As far as we know this has not happened.
If carriers are allowed into the country the rate of infection will obviously rise again as the visitors mingle with uninfected people. This should go without saying!
Many countries, particularly in the West, have continued to categorise travellers as Red, Amber and Green according to the statuses of the countries they have travelled from. This is seen as the main mechanism to minimise or cut completely the number of potential vectors of the disease.
Travellers from countries on the Red list are treated differently from those on the Amber list and Green list.
Before one travels to England from a Red-listed country, for example, one has to take a Covid-19 test in the three days before travel, book a quarantine hotel package including two Covid-19 tests and complete a passenger locator form.
When the traveller arrives in England he/she must quarantine in a managed hotel and have two Covid-19 tests.
Travellers from Amber-listed countries also have to observe similar stringent regulations. If they do not qualify under the fully vaccinated rules, on arrival they must quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days and take a Covid-19 test on or before Day 2 and on or after Day 8.
Even travellers from countries on the Green list have to follow certain rules. Green-listed countries are those with few or no dangerous variants such as Alpha and Delta. But travellers from these countries are also mandated to take Covid-19 tests three days before travel and book and pay for Day 2 Covid-19 tests to be taken upon arrival in England. This shows just how seriously some countries continue to take Covid-19. It seems Zimbabwe has chosen to relax. India is on the Red list of all countries and Zimbabwe should continue to treat it and other countries on that list accordingly.