It seems a bad precedence has been set as Zimbabwe and Malawi register a combined of nearly 520 escapes from quarantine centres.

Apparently, Zimbabwe has recorded 118 returnees running away from quarantine centres from across the country.

Health minister Obadiah Moyo told Parliament on Tuesday that the greatest risk for COVID-19 transmission in Zimbabwe was from returnees coming from neighbouring Botswana, Zambia and South Africa, now the continent’s hotspot with over 20 000 cases.

“A total of 118 people have escaped from various isolation centres throughout the country since the onset of the national lockdown. Some have been arrested while others are being sought by the police,” national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said on Tuesday.

Sources said food shortages and overcrowding were threatening the stay of inmates, adding that they were becoming hostile and exposed to the fast-spreading virus, while those who had tested negative wanted to leave the facility.

Meanwhile, over 400 Malawian returnees from South Africa have bolted from Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, Malawi where they were quarantined awaiting tests for coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

This raises fears of more covid-19 cases as the returnees are coming from a coronavirus hotspot country.

The Malawian government is already receiving stormy criticisms over its handling of the returnees, some of whom have been escaping from isolation centres.

Some of the returnees complained that the stadium had no water, no toilets and the government was not providing them with food.

While officials from the ministry of Health are yet to comment on the matter, health activist Dorothy Ngoma told Nyasa Times that the escape was expected because of the poor handling of the returnees by the government.

She feared the whole nation is now at greater risk than ever before.

Malawi’s Covid-19 cases stand at 101 with four deaths and 60 active cases since the first cases were reported on April 2.

Meanwhile, in Harare, some of the returnees recently lambasted the government for offering substandard accommodation.

They complained of lack of proper services like electricity, water and other amenities.

Apparently, health experts encourage people not to run away from quarantine centre, while calls are that governments should ensure good living conditions for the returnees.