Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 53 – WCoZ Covid-19 Situation Report

53 Days into the lockdown, and the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that as at 21 May 2020, cumulatively a total of 34 707 rapid screening tests and 15 084 PCR diagnostic tests had been conducted. Three new cases have been recorded today, thus the total number of positive cases has risen to 51.

Noting a daily increase of positive cases, we request that the Ministry of Health and Child Care updates the nation on the testing status of Business and Government agencies personnel who resumed operations under level 2 after having received a reprieve to temporarily suspend mandatory testing.

We further call for the Government to publicise the results of inspections by Government inspectors on Business and Government agencies that have resumed operations under level 2. This is critical, especially as we note that the majority of the public, who have not yet been tested, are moving about everyday, coming into contact with each other, waiting for prolonged periods of time whilst awaiting the under pressure modes of public transport, reporting for work, at a time when we are witnessing and increase in cases of community transmission.

Further, concerned that there appears to be a lag in updating the official Government statics in the daily publicised updates. There are several reports in the print media of instances were persons testing positive for COVID-19 have been covered however, those cases are not being reflected in the updates. This, together with community based concerns regarding gaps in the testing and tracing practises being implemented in various communities gives credence to questioning the actual figures included in the updates. This scenario can partially be addressed by a full comprehensive report on COVID-19 numbers and the Government fully addressing the public on gaps regarding the reporting of COVID-19 in the country.

Concerned with press reports indicating that Laboratory tests have revealed 48% of hand sanitizers and face masks currently being produced have failed to meet mandatory standards. These reports reinforce repeated calls we have been making on Government, on the failure to release official masks guidelines to assist the masses who have resorted to the use of facemasks.

While we note that Government has announced that it will work with manufactures to improve the quality of products, we raise query as to the effectiveness of this action as still creates the practical situation leaves for the general members of the public who are hand-sewing their own face-masks at this time.

Critical Emerging Issues

1. Public Transport challenges

We continue to note reports from our grassroots networks pointing to challenges in accessing public transport and lack of capacity by ZUPCO to meet the high demand, particularly in Guruve;

Understanding that these challenges have made it nearly impossible for passengers to observe physical distancing;

Appreciating the efforts by ZUPCO to bring in franchised commuter omnibuses in order to strengthen its capacity to meet the high demand of customers;

  • We warn that if proper mitigatory measures are not established to ensure physical distancing in addition to decontamination and use of masks, the public transport system will be our undoing in this COVID-19 battle.
  • We continue to call upon the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and also the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to strengthen the public transport system in order to cater for the high demand by the public

2. Water and Sanitation
Remaining concerned with the dire water situation currently obtaining throughout the country, in areas such as Dangamvura Mutare, Warren Park, Mkoba Gweru;

Noting that water is a universal human right, guaranteed by the Supreme law of the land; Aware that in April, the High Court delivered a ruling, ordering the adequate provision of water;

  • We reinforce our calls upon the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, and all local authorities in their respective districts, to ensure adequate provision water, through the urgent escalation and expedition of the implementation of short and long-term strategies.

3. Social distancing

We continue to note a general trend, throughout communities, indicating a relaxation in observing social distancing, since the Nation’s transition into Level 2, particularly in the rural areas and markets.

Further noting that there has been more focus on the wearing of masks, than other 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 remind the general populace on the need to fortify their efforts in maintaining both social and physical distancing, in every environment which may include work, public transport or supermarkets.

Outstanding issues

1. Protection of the prison populations

Noting that we are yet to receive a publicized report on the protection of prison population; Further noting that the courts have resumed operations under Level 2; Aware that on a daily basis there are new entrants who are sent to remand prison from the outside world, where they may have been exposed to the virus and remain asymptomatic;

Noting that decongestion of prison facilities is not the only measure necessary to address the protection of the prison population which also includes Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services staffers.

Aware that most of our detention facilities may not be capacitated enough and that social distancing rules may be difficult to enforce;

  • We continue to urge Government to urgently publicize and implement a comprehensive crisis plan to cater for the rights, needs and safety of detainees in the COVID-19 era.
  • Paying particular attention to vulnerable detainees such as juveniles, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and those with underlying health conditions.

2. Security of the Persons in Mandatory Quarantine and Isolation Centres

We reiterate our concern regarding the security and safety measures within mandatory isolation and quarantine centers. Noting reports of increased security incidents at mandatory isolation and quarantine centers. Distressed at the risks and vulnerabilities of women, girls, children and the elderly;

  • We reiterate the need to ensure that deportees and retuning residents are not seen as a homogenous group and consider the risk profiles of persons and the applicable separation of the different sets of returning residents and deportees.
  • We call for the Government to ensure that safety of women, girls, children and the elderly in mandatory quarantine centers.
  • We continue to call for Government to ensure adequate provision of sexual and reproductive health services in quarantine centers to both men and women without stigma.
  • We remind all citizens, that Zimbabweans throughout the world have the rights to return to Zimbabwe, their home country.

We condemn public statements and sentiments, that seek to fuel a negative narrative against Zimbabweans who are returning to Zimbabweans voluntarily.
All citizens have a right to be protected from statelessness.

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 COVID-19 Zimbabwe response.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)