Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 58 – WCoZ Covid-19 Situation Report

58 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that as at 25 May 2020, cumulatively a total of 21 709 rapid screening tests and 15 765 PCR diagnostic tests had been conducted. The total number of positive cases remains at 56, with a total of 27 recoveries. We note that this marks three consecutive days where the cases of reported positive COVID-19 cases remains unchanged. We note with concern the increasing daily delays in release of results of the daily reports from the Ministry of Health and Child Care. We further note with concern increasing inconsistencies and irregularities in releasing the supportive demographic disaggregation. We urge the Ministry to maintain high standards of reporting.

We note the visit and the support of the Chinese experts on COVID-19 and their extensive tour around Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 response facilities and assessment of the interventions.

We further note that the delegation has presented a report which highlights recommendations to the Government of Zimbabwe, and remain hopeful that we will learn a few lessons on containment of the disease.

  • We continue to call for the Government of Zimbabwe to demonstrate its commitment to openness and transparency in addressing COVID-19 and make the report accessible to the general public.
  • We remind the Government of Zimbabwe that the status of the Zimbabweans’ response is a matter of national interest and as such demonstrable respect of the constitution and good governance practises require that the report is placed in the public domain as a matter of public record.

Applauding Parliament of Zimbabwe for holding its inaugural virtual sitting today and conduct business. This is a welcome move which will enable the institution to carry out is constitutional mandate in these critical times, at the same time observing social distancing measures. We also commend the announcement by Parliament to put in place measures to allow public hearings and consultations to be made in line with the Constitution, yet observing health guidelines as directed by Government. We continue to emphasise that measures put in place should be supported by the consultation of the public in line with section 141 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which facilitates for public involvement in its legislative processes.

Critical Emerging Issues

1. Conditions in Mandatory Quarantine and Isolation Centres

We highlight once more, as incidents are on the rise, the living conditions at mandatory quarantine and isolation centres. We note with concern the demonstration by 232 quarantined persons at Belvedere Isolation Centre on Saturday over forced payments of $65 for testing.

Noting further with concern that this report comes on the back of the reports of increased distress of persons in mandatory quarantine centres, which has also led to the abscondment by 29 persons in various centres.

Remaining distressed with the limited deployment of social welfare officers to provide social service support to quarantined and isolated persons;

Further concerned with the risks and vulnerabilities of faced by women, the elderly, children, and persons living with disabilities;

We urge Government to enhance the provision of:

  • Access to testing at the costs of the Government
  • Access to applicable and supportive ameliorative services for women, the elderly, children, and persons living with disabilities in quarantine.
  • Appropriate and adequate provision of water and sanitization.
  • Applicable safety and security measures in place at centres to address the complex blend of returning residents and deportees of various classes.
  • Access to services, including adequate sexual and reproductive health services, to both men and women without stigma.
  • Access to information regarding their stay their procedures to be followed upon their release, their ability to communicate with friends and family.

We remind all citizens, that Zimbabweans throughout the world have the rights to return to Zimbabwe, their home country. And that no persons shall be stateless.

We condemn public statements and sentiments, that seek to fuel a negative narrative against Zimbabweans who are returning to Zimbabweans voluntarily and other wide.

2. Support for persons with disabilities

Reports have emerged showing that Government is yet to fully disburse the sum of $600 000 ZWL to vulnerable populations, particularly persons with disabilities. Noting that it is almost 2 months since the inception of the lockdown, and that most persons with disabilities rely on the informal sector for their very livelihood:

  • We urge Government to expedite its social protection measures to vulnerable communities.

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 the challenges citizens are failing in observing social distancing within the public transport system;

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. Re-opening of the education sector

We continue to note various discussions and concerns have been raised in our networks regarding the re-opening of the education sector.

  • We therefore urge the establishment of clear guidelines and operating procedures that respond to the dilemmas outlined above
  • We continue to call upon Government to ensure that regardless of whatever measures adopted, they should prioritise the safety of both the learners and their teachers, and resource directly that support.

2. Access to health services

Remaining gravely concerned with reports which have revealed that under a new policy, hospitals are demanding patients to produce COVID-19 tests before being taken in.

We note that Government itself is struggling to meet the demand for COVID-19 testing. Therefore, this has forced the majority to resort to private testing facilities, where Covid-19 testing is averagely costing an exorbitant $65. The majority population cannot afford such costs.

To put this into perspective, a nursing mother seeking treatment for her baby, would be required to produce to 2 test: one test for her and another test for the baby. This approximately sums up to USD$130 which is completely not affordable for citizens and completely untenable with a view to our Constitutional provisions.

The Government position currently therefore directly places the majority of persons at a point wherein they are failing to access medical attention, pregnant women, and other patients with chronic illnesses failing to access health care services;

  • We therefore call upon government to address the question of access to testing for the public bearing in mind that access to basic healthcare services is a fundamental human-right that the State must lead in meeting.

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)