Communities plan to block South Africa returnees at Domasi Isolation Centre

By Synd Kalimbuka

Communities near Domasi College of Education Isolation centre in Zomba are planning to start blocking buses which carry Returnees from South Africa from entering into the College following concerns that the returnees are exposing people in surrounding villages to Covid-19.

According to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, communities have threatened to start blocking buses if government through Department of Disaster Management Affairs will not do anything on the system they put in place which are currently not working.

Some people told Malawi24 that returnees who are supposed to be isolated at the centre are not adhering to guidelines that require them to remain in dorms.

“Unfortunately, these returnees move to various places such Domasi market and villages surrounding the centre without wearing masks,” said one person.

The current situation at the centre is that those who are tested positive are taken to their home districts using Ambulances while those tested negative are told to use public transport to their destinations.

The fear is those people using public transport are the same who interacted with those found positive.

Our reporter also visited Domasi college isolation centre on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday where he saw some returnees selling clothes, phones, blankets and other items in nearby villages in order to get money for transport.

Member of Parliament for Zomba Malosa Grace Kwelepeta who previously lobbied for community engagement on the matter said the system put place by DODMA is not working as planned because it has so many gaps need to be electrified.

Kwelepeta said some returnees move anyhow in different places without even wearing masks can expose the area to Covid-19.

“Communities in this area are exposed to Covid-19 and we are expecting rising number of cases in future due to negligence by authorities,” said Kwelepeta.

When contacted, Director of Health and Social Services at Zomba district council Dr. Alexander Chijuwa said his team is trying to control further transmission of the disease

Chijuwa assured people that everyone from South Africa undergoes Covid-19 test in order to separate those with negative from positive ones.

He added that those tested negative are given transport to their homes, especially to use public transport.

Zomba has registered total positive cases of 88, 29 recoveries and 5 deaths by August 4, 2020.

The threats to block buses carrying returnees from South Africa to Domasi college of education isolation centre has come after people feel that they are at danger of contracting Corona virus.

Domasi College of Education Isolation centre receives buses from South Africa with returnees where most of them are tested Covid-19 positive.