THE country’s leading sugar producer, Tongaat Hulett has closed its 22 schools in Triangle and Hippo Valley a week earlier after a surge in Covid-19 cases at one of the institutions and locality which saw at least eight teachers testing positive.
Sunday News has it on good authority that eight teachers, including the head and other non-teaching staff at Mufakose High School in Triangle tested positive to Covid-19 last week, a development which forced the company to suspend learning at its 22 schools on Thursday last week to curb a possible transmission.
However, the company will only allow candidates writing the November Zimsec examinations to come to school while continuously disinfecting the examination rooms as they implement the Standard Operation Procedures set by Government as well as following the World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols.
Schools are officially expected to close for this term on Friday.
Tongaat Hulett spokesperson Ms Adelite Chikunguru told Sunday News yesterday that the company had closed its schools to minimise the possible spread of the pandemic among school pupils and staff following the incidences at Mufakose High School.
“It is unfortunate that one of our schools reported cases of Covid-19. We have closed all schools that are being run by Tongaat Hulett in the Lowveld so that we try and minimise the possible spread of the pandemic. We had stringent protocols that we have been following since the schools opened in September and we had not had any case of Covid-19.
“The new cases at one of our schools are unfortunate and we have made sure that the affected people receive best health care. We have state of the art healthcare facilities at Tongaat Hulett and we are also working with the Rapid Response Team and the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure that the situation is under control. We continue to follow Government guidelines on Covid-19,” she said.
According to a memo that was written by the company to its employees updating on the situation, the company said 51 people came into contact with the primary source and are under self-quarantine while waiting for PCR results.
The primary source was identified as a non-teaching staff at Mufakose High School who later infected seven teachers.
The memo said the contact later infected five other people at home including her husband, three children and a neighbour who frequented their home.
“Of the 66 primary contacts that have been investigated so far, 15 were tested and 11 turned out to be positive. A total of 51 secondary contacts were tested, six of the 14 ran tests were positive. Other 37 results are not yet out,” said the company on Friday.
Director of Communication and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Director Communications Mr Taungana Ndoro could not confirm nor deny the development.
Mr Ndoro said the ministry would investigate the cases.