Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 40 – WCoZ Covid-19 Situation Report

40 Days into the lockdown and according to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, as at 7 May 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has conducted 9 594 rapid screening tests and 8 141 PCR tests. On 6 May alone, the Ministry reports that it conducted 1 350 rapid screening tests, and 333 PCR tests, in the public institutions. To date, records show that only 34 cases have confirmed as COVID-19 positive. We commend the progress of ensuring screening and testing reports have reverted back to being clearly and separately reported.

Deeply distressed on reports of over prolonged detention of mandatory quarantine centres. That persons due for release, after their 21 day quarantine period, have not been released and that their families have not been advised on change of circumstances, if any.

We amplify the case of Mr Nyasha Cannaan Chigunduru, whose wife, was detained at United College of Education, which is a mandatory quarantine centre, his wife had entered quarantine initially at Plumtree High School on April 5, 2020 which was supposed to last 21 days. The last day of quarantine was due to be the 7th of May 2020, Mr Chigunduru received no official communication on her status and whereabouts.

We amplify the above incident which is reported in the press, and

  • We call upon Government to urgently address this matter and in the same breath, immediately, update the nation on all the quarantine detainees on releases and continued quarantine of persons in quarantine centres.
  • We urge Government officials to desist from intimidating citizens.
  • We remind the Government to tread with care in managing quarantine persons and uphold the rights of mandatory quarantine persons under the Constitution section 46 which guarantees the right to personal liberty including the right not be arbitrarily deprived of their personal liberty without just cause.

In the same breath, we cautiously note, the establishment of additional quarantine centres in Beitbridge, Plumtree, Masvingo and Midlands;

  • We urgently call on Government to remember its core obligation to uphold the Constitution and protect the rights of citizens in those places of quarantine, in particular the rights to personal liberty, safety security and bodily integrity together with the rights to food, water and a clean environment.

Critical Emerging Issues

1. Resumption of High Demand Government Services

We reiterate our concern at the operational and administrative capacity of government to plan and implement serviced delivery for high demand public services with appropriate COVID19 measures in place abut also with the consideration that post lock down certain services will inevitably have backlogs and state departments will face large numbers of citizens urgently needing services, including but not limited to:

  • access to family planning, maternal, neo natal and infant care,
  • access to national registration Documents,
  • Zimbabwe Tax Revenue Services
  • Deeds Registry Services
  • Central Vehicle Registry
  • Ministry of Transport and applicable department for permits etc

We urge Government to announce in advance the plans to provide these services in a clear and safe manner and desist from simply limiting numbers of persons seeking services without prior-announcement of alternatives or methods to deal with large numbers of the public.

2. Rights of women, access to pre and post -natal care

Concerned by growing reports of pregnant women struggling to access pre-natal care due to COVID-19 and baby immunization services;

Unimpressed by the long queues and limiting of numbers of women at maternal health care centres which unnecessarily raises the anxieties of women;

Distressed at wide spread reports highlight that women seeking to access baby clinics are being turned away at hospitals and clinics;

Gravely concerned that these challenges have continue to manifest throughout the lockdown period;

  • We therefore call for measures to support pregnant women, nursing mothers to ensure that they access immunization services and other health care services without any impediments due to COVID-19

3. Non adherence to safety measures

We continue to note growing trends showing non-adherence to social-distancing by the masses. Particularly, during traditional gatherings such as funerals, with mourners exceeding the prescribed limit of 50, as reported by our networks in Gwanda today. Our networks in Chipinge also reported non-use of masks by the majority of residents.

  • We therefore continue to call upon the public to observe stipulated safety protocols as a means to curb further spread of the disease.

4. 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, in both, rural and urban settings;

Alive to the realities that women are constitute the greater number of Zimbabwe’s vulnerable population that has been seriously impoverished by the lockdown, and that hunger in households creates and facilitates for increases in gender based violence and negative coping mechanisms that hurt women and girls;

We continue to 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 for the escalation of the food distribution program to urgently address those increased numbers of food insecure persons.
  • We call upon Government to engage mobile money operators and ensure that transaction costs on the cash transfer program for vulnerable programs is removed.

Outstanding Issues

1. 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 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 continue to urge Government to publicize its state of readiness in responding to COVID-19

2. 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.

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)