A DECISION on the reopening of schools and final dates on the resumption of classes following a surge in Covid-19 infections and the threat posed by new and more contagious variants of the disease will be communicated today.

This comes as the country has also activated its scientific research systems and positive samples are being examined to determine if the new variants are now in the country.

Yesterday, the Ad Hoc Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19 requested expert advice from the Ministries of Primary and Secondary Education and Health and Child Care on the feasibility of opening schools next Monday without risking a spike in infections.

A decision is expected today, but it will not affect the writing of examinations which were disrupted by Covid-19 mitigatory measures.

The inter-ministerial caucus set up by President Mnangagwa to lead the country’s response to the pandemic also announced the tightening of security checks to identify, apprehend and flush out fake Covid-19 certificates holders.

Evacuation of people in the eastern parts of the country to safer places in anticipation of Cyclone Chalane was also discussed, and it was agreed that it should be done in a manner compliant to Covid-19 containment measures.

The situation at Beitbridge Border Post was also reviewed with the need to improve the flow of traffic and clampdown on corrupt officials.

Speaking to The Herald after yesterday’s meeting, vice chairman of the taskforce, Professor Amon Murwira, gave insight into the deliberations.

“We discussed the issue of schools re-opening and we are now waiting to be furnished with details by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Ministry of Health and Child Care on the practicality of opening schools next week. But the examinations will not be affected and will go on as scheduled,” said Prof Murwira.

“Our scientists are taking samples on those who have tested positive to see the types of variants that we have in the country so as to proffer recommendations on how best we can respond.”

Minister Murwira said fake certificates were being produced by some unscrupulous citizens, but warned that systems had been put in place to identify the fake ones.

He discouraged people from faking a negative status, saying the health services were on call at any time to help those who tested positive.

“We are scanning the QR-Code (Quick Response Code) to identify the fake certificates. That is fraud and it is a punishable offence at law and those found on the wrong side will face the wrath of the law.

“There is no need to fake your status. We need to be responsible to save others and as well as get help if we need it so a negative status should be a negative status not a fake one,” said Minister Murwira.

Cyclone Chalane is expected to start hitting some parts of the country tomorrow and the Government yesterday started evacuating those living in areas that might be vulnerable to cyclone or storms.

Some people were yesterday taken to St Patrick’s Secondary School in Nyanyadzi and Mutambara Mission in Manicaland.

Minister Murwira said modalities had been put in place to ensure the evacuations were done in a manner that was amenable to Covid-19 containment measures.

“The evacuations must be done in a manner that is compliant to Covid-19 mitigatory measures so that we avoid a double tragedy.

“Government has put in place measures for the evacuations to be done in a safe manner,” said Minister Murwira.

-The Herald