HARARE – Billionaire telecoms tycoon Strive Masiyiwa is offering free Covid-19 PCR tests for students – but few have taken up the offer.
Masiyiwa’s Higherlife Foundation partnered Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals for the exercise between March 15 and March 22, but on Wednesday morning, only 10 students had been tested, officials told ZimLive.
Schools opened earlier this week for exam classes, with other grades set to follow on March 22. University students are also returning to lecture rooms for face-to-face learning after being forced to switch to online learning due to Covid-19 concerns.
Martin Musekiwa, the team leader of the Parirenyatwa task-force conducting the free tests blamed “poor advertising” and lack of media coverage for the low turnout.
He said their target was to test 150 students daily between March 15 and 22.
“We rolled out the programme for free Covid-19 testing on Monday 8AM for all students in tertiary, primary and secondary levels. There has however been a low uptake, I think this is because there was poor marketing for the exercise,” Musekiwa said.
“We’re hoping the numbers will improve. We tested just two on Monday, eight on Tuesday and today (Wednesday) we’re expecting more students to come.”
Musekiwa said the exercise was important to ensure the “safety of students” and “our schools.”
He added: “The Covid test is costly, so this initiative is there to lessen the burden on parents who’re forking out hard cash to pay school fees.”
All 10 students whose results had been received were negative for the virus, Musekiwa said.
Zimbabwe reported 17 new infections and one death on Wednesday, pushing the total cases to 36,552 since March last year, of which 1,508 resulted in death.