Border prisons at Beitbridge and Plumtree have been sealed off after six people — four inmates and two prison officers — tested positive for Covid-19 following PCR tests done to prevent the spread of the virus in jails.
Two inmates and one officer are from Plumtree while another pair of inmates and one officer tested positive in Beitbridge.
The ongoing testing process throughout the prison system started at the border prisons which have accommodated arrested returnees from other countries.
Police have announced that 94 border jumpers — people crossing illegally into Zimbabwe — have recently been arrested as the authorities step up efforts to ensure that all those returning from other countries, especially countries with high infection rates, are screened, tested and properly quarantined on their arrival.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said yesterday that Government has now suspended all visits to the two prisons to contain the spread of the virus.
She said the four prisoners and two officers have since been isolated while the two prison facilities were disinfected.
The four prisoners were being treated in isolation within the prison walls while the two officers were staying in self-isolation in their homes while they recover.
The minister said increased Covid-19 testing has seen correctional facilities being tested for the virus. “The coming online of GeneXpert machines to test for Covid-19 has enabled increased testing capacity.
All provincial hospitals can conduct PCR tests, and some machines are now testing at correctional facilities,” she said.
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) spokesperson Superintendent Meya Khanyezi said a total of 274 PCR tests were done at the two prisons.