HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean authorities have closed a boarding school in the west of the country after at least 100 students tested positive for coronavirus, a state-owned newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The school in the Matabeleland North province is the first to report a significant spike in infections since schools began re-opening for end-of-year examinations in September. It is also the first to be closed over a cluster of positive cases.
Authorities fear that the country could see a surge after infections increased this month. New cases jumped to 294 last week compared to 109 new cases in the previous week, according to the ministry of health.
Zimbabwe has so far recorded 8,945 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 260 deaths.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government closed schools in March as the coronavirus pandemic spread. Teachers unions have complained that most public schools are not adequately equipped to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which the government denies.
The Bulawayo-based Chronicle newspaper quoted Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri saying most of the students at the affected school were asymptomatic while the rest had mild symptoms.
“Cabinet resolved and directed that where we are faced with this situation, the school must be closed immediately... The situation is now under control in the hands of appropriate authorities,” said Muchinguri-Kashiri, who heads the cabinet’s task-force on COVID-19.
Muchinguri-Kashiri could not be reached for further comment.
Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by Mfuneko Toyana and Toby Chopra
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