Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 39 WCoZ Covid-19 Situation Report

39 Days into the lockdown and according to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, as at 6 May 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has conducted 8 244 rapid screening tests and 7 808 PCR tests. Cumulatively therefore a total of 16 032 tests have been conducted. On 6 May alone, the Ministry reports that it conducted 564 rapid screening tests, and 667 PCR tests, in the public institutions. To date, records show that only 34 cases have confirmed as COVID-19 positive. This represents 9 consecutive days where the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 has remained unchanged. This can only point to either of the 2 scenarios, being either we have managed to contain further spread of the disease or we have not conducted enough testing and contact tracing.

Reports from the communities today were generally focusing on the proper use of face masks, indicating that in areas such as Goromonzi Ward 7, most people were mainly moving around with masks hanging on their necks, complaining that they were experiencing suffocation and hence could not cover their mouths and noses for longer periods of time. This pattern is replicated across the country based on casual observations and indeed can be seen in state media broadcasts of various official as they acquit their respective roles.

We therefore, once again reiterate our call for the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to issue official guidelines to the public, setting out the proper use of masks, the reuse of masks, appropriate materials in home-made masks, the appropriate storage and disposal of masks. This is particularly important to ensure that the universal mask wearing measures in place are effective.

Decrying the continued poor state of access to water and sanitation services for communities currently obtaining throughout the country and increasingly distressed with the sales of water, which is a protected right in the Constitution; and alarmed that a global public health crisis such as COVID19 has not driven the government to comprehensively set out the consolidated plan to address Zimbabwe’s chronic water problems. We remain perplexed at the priority setting agenda in Government and its responsiveness to citizens.

Critical Emerging Issues

1. Holistic Enforcement of COVID19 Measures

We note with concern that messaging and enforcement of COVID-19 measures and been fixated to ensuring adherence to mandatory mask wearing, it has not been extended to adherence and enforcement of physical and social distancing measures in the transition into Level 2, particularly in the public transport nodes, rural areas and markets. The unbalanced focus on mandatory mask wearing is coming at a cost of other COVID-19 preventative methods;

Concerned that failure to adequately observe social and physical distancing may erode all the gains recorded so far in the COVID-19 battle

  • We continue to remind the Government that physical and social distancing remain critical COVID-19 prevention measures and should not be relaxed in an effort to resume livelihoods. This is the new normal
  • We urge the general populace to fortify their efforts in maintaining both mask wearing and physical distancing in every environment which may include work, food markets, public transport or supermarkets.

2. Publication of State of Readiness for COVID19

Noting that the COVID-19 Healthcare response system is anchored on strengthening the public health system capacity to effectively Detect, Test, Trace, Treat and Prevent Re-infection of COVID-19 and that Zimbabwe undertook measures to establish isolation and quarantine facilities;

Aware that in a the context of a fragile health system which has been grossly under-resourced and de-prioritised for decades there is a limit to expedited upgrades within a 5 week period;

Recognising the phenomenal support that citizens, the private sector and development partners have coalesced to provide support to the crisis;

We remain distressed at the level of readiness of our health centres to deal with large scale hospitalisations in the event of a COVID-19 surge. In particular we call for Government to publicise;

I. The upgrade status of all health centres in the COVIDi19 National Reponses plan.
II. The readiness in regards to functional hospital beds and the actual disaggregated total number of the available functional beds.
III. The availability of operational ventilators as disaggregated by health centres.
IV. The ratio of PPE disaggregated by health centres available to health team on the ground.
V. The ration of healthcare staff by health centres available to service health centres

3. Food

Fully aware of the magnitude through which the lockdown has severely affected households, and individual’s earning capacities.

Deeply concerned with reports from our grassroots networks, on hunger and hardships in communities, particularly in Wedza South Ward 12, and Chivi Chiveso area;

Further understanding that women are part of the vulnerable section that has been seriously impoverished;

  • We remind Government, of section 77 of the Constitution, which guarantees every person the right to sufficient food, and places an obligation on the State to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.
  • Furthermore, we continue to urge the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare to expedite disbursement of food aid and grants to vulnerable communities in a transparent manner, without any political interference.
  • We call upon mobile money operators to remove transaction costs on the cash transfer program.

4. Provision of Psychosocial Support

Noting with distress the levels of the trauma that personnel in the healthcare service sector are undergoing and the real concerns of operating without access to sufficient level of PPE.

Noting similarly, the trauma of persons screened for COVID19 and their loved one as there are tested, await and receive results.

We note that the current protocols do not address the need to provide counselling to health personnel nor is there any counselling for potential suspect COVID-19 cases and their families.

  • We buttress our calls upon Government to ensure urgent provision of the counselling to both healthcare workers and persons screened and tested for COVID19.
  • We note that the failure to address the chronic counselling needs, fuels stigma and negative social behaviours;
  • We therefore continue to call upon the Government to deploy social workers and community case care workers to address heightened household and community level need for psychosocial support and strengthened social cohesion practises.

This SITREP is developed by and through, the collective network of organisational and individual members of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, who are engaged at community levels to national levels in the COVID19 Zimbabwe response.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)