MANY accommodation service providers in Manicaland have unknowingly turned their premises into isolation centres as they are booking in Covid-19 positive guests for periods ranging between two and three weeks without asking for any test results, The Manica Post has established.
According to authorities in the tourism industry, clients who stay for more than two days at a hotel or lodge are required to produce periodic test results as a precautionary measure against the pandemic.
Investigations conducted by this publication revealed that this new breed of Covid-19 super spreaders was booking into lodges for isolation without divulging its status.
Unfortunately, there are always other guests at the same facilities who are then exposed to the virus as some of the accommodation facilities do not have hand sanitising and temperature checking devices at their entrances.
Such facilities are also not following proper disinfecting procedures between guests’ stay.
The presence of Covid-19 positive persons at the lodges without putting in place any precautionary measures therefore places, not only the guests, but the facilities’ staff members at risk.
Such moves were frustrating efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic in the province.
In an effort to establish whether or not accommodation facilities were concerned with one’s Covid-19 status when they make a long booking, this reporter made a three-week booking at a lodge in one of the medium-density suburbs of Mutare.
No Covid-19 test results were requested.
This reporter paid an initial deposit of US$20 and was issued a receipt, number 13624E75.
A source employed as a gardener at the lodge said a client was whisked to hospital after his condition deteriorated midway through his fortnight stay at the facility.
“We figured that his wife was aware of her husband’s Covid-19 status because she would always bring him food, but they always observed physical distancing.
“It only became clear to us after he was forced to call for help as his condition deteriorated. That is when his wife came with an ambulance to rush him to hospital,” said the gardener.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) national president, Mr Charlton Chimbira said this trend could be rampant at unregistered lodges that only value the money they get from clients.
He said HAZ members have been on high alert during this Covid-19 period, ensuring that clients who stayed for more than two days produced periodic test results.
“That is a sad development at unregistered lodges. HAZ members are fully aware of the need to protect the good health of their clients as well as that of their staff.
“This is one of the reasons why we urge operators to register with HAZ so that they maintain high standards of security and safety,” said Mr Chimbira.
“Our hotels are not taking in people for more than two days and when lengthy periods of stay are required, there are procedures to be strictly followed, including the provision of regular Covid-19 test results.
“The CCTV systems are also helping us to monitor what happens within the hotels, not just around Covid-19. We have had some incidences in which some hotels have had to evict some clients due to discoveries made via CCTV.
“The temperature checks are also regular and effective in helping us to monitor the situation day and night,” he said.
Acting Mutare director for health services, Dr Kudzai
Murembwe said this could be a new development that is yet to be brought to their attention.
He urged players in the hospitality industry to be extra vigilant.
“That will be greatly unfair for someone to think of endangering others while protecting their own families.
‘‘We are yet to establish such cases on the ground. However, it calls for players in the hospitality industry to be extra vigilant in the interest of public health safety as well as the safety of their own employees.
“They should be requesting for Covid-19 test certificates for long stays, not just to focus on the bookings.
“It is also a question of adherence to the Government regulations stipulated in accommodation services provision during this lockdown period. Covid-19 is real and people are dying.
‘‘We do not to deliberately spread the disease,” said Dr Murembwe.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA)were fruitless.