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The COVID-19 crisis in schools is escalating, pushing up the daily statistics which had been on a decline despite claims by the government the situation was under control.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa in a post-Cabinet Press briefing this week, said the government would not close schools as the figures were too insignificant.

However, teachers unions have maintained that ignoring or downplaying the current crisis was folly.

President of the Progressive teachers union (PTUZ) Takavafira Zhou said there was urgent need for a broad-based intervention plan as COVID-19 threatens learning in many schools that are fast becoming quarantine centres.

He said statistics from schools were concerning.

Zhou said Chegato High School, in Mberengwa, had recorded 175 cases, Tongwe High, Beitbridge, 130 and Masase 101 among others.

“Urgent intervention by the government is now needed in providing testing kits in all boarding schools so that all pupils are tested and the infected quarantined. This will also stop recurrent infection,” Zhou said.

He added that authorities should provide food, tents, toiletries, sanitary wear, blankets as some quarantined students were day scholars.

“Health officials must be seconded to such institutions to guide, monitor and supervise the quarantine centres. There is also a need to provide COVID-19 abatement equipment to schools as well as drilling of boreholes at learning institutions,” he said.

In an earlier statement, Zhou said more than 50 other schools across the country, had recorded between 1 and 40 cases, but the testing process was being hindered by a critical shortage of testing kits.

Zhou said a comprehensive plan to test not only students, but teachers and ancillary staff at the affected schools was the panacea to combating COVID-19.

In the latest daily statistics from the Health ministry, 340 cases were recorded on Tuesday. This is in stark contrast with previous figures. On September 18, only 101 cases were recorded. The cases are rising at an alarming rate.

The ministry even mentioned that the rise was due to outbreaks in schools.

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