Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 77 – WCOZ Situation Report

77 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Childcare reported that as at the 14th of June 2020, the number of COVID-19 positive cases had increased to 383 cases, after 27 new cases were recorded from returnees from South Africa.

This day, the 14th of June, 2020, is World Blood Donor Day, which is commemorated under the Safe Blood Saves Lives, highlighting the chronic and persistent need to ensure individuals and communities have access to safe and quality-assured blood and blood products in both normal and emergency situations.

  • We call on more people to become life-savers by volunteering to donate blood regularly. We celebrate and thank individuals who donate blood and we encourage more people to start donating;
  • We call for Government to promote and provide quality donor care. Today is a call to action for Government and national blood transfusion services to invest in national blood provide adequate resources and put in place systems and infrastructures to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors.

We further call on Government to;

  • Sustain the investments in provision and universal access to blood services for all system;
  • Specifically ensure that the costs of blood is affordable to the generality to the Zimbabwean public;
  • Promote and implement appropriate clinical use of blood;
  • Strengthen the provision for testing kits and blood bags for blood services in Zimbabwe negatively impacted by the Covid-19 Lockdown restrictions, and
  • Strengthen the systems for the oversight and surveillance on the whole chain of blood transfusion and distribution of blood and blood products.

Critical Emerging Issues

Public Hearings during the lockdown

We note that despite the rapid increase in the cases in Zimbabwe, Parliament of Zimbabwe will be going ahead with the Public Hearings on Constitution Amendment Bill 2. The first hearings are scheduled to start tomorrow and Parliament has directed that only 50 participants will be allowed only at one time, and that where more than 50 participants want to attend, they will only be allowed in groups that comply with the requirements. We will be monitoring the situation closely to make sure that Parliament fully discharges its mandate in terms of section 141 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe;

  • We urge stakeholders to closely monitor reports on restrictions on movement of the public seeking to access the venues of the hearings. Citizens have the democratic right to participate in legislative processes, hence constitutionalism and democracy should not be compromised because of the lockdown.
  • We call upon the independent Commissions to remain vigilant and ensure that citizens’ rights are not violated during this critical time.
    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.

Church Gatherings

The greatest highlight for today was the re-opening of churches and religious gatherings. Reports from our grassroots champions and networks, reveal that there was an electric atmosphere throughout the country as the
religious community had great excitement for resuming gatherings for the first time in 77 days.

The reports also reveal worrying patterns in respect of public health and safety protocols. In Shurugwi and Chipinge, it has been noted that most congregants were taking off their masks as soon as they entered the church gates. Others have complained that they could not sing properly with their mouths covered with masks. In Chivi ward 21, reports show lack of physical distancing amongst church members. But how do we regulate the behaviour of congregants?

We note that these are realities and challenges that are presented by the lockdown relaxations;

  • We recommend establishment of clear guidelines on the operation of churches.
  • We urge the development and implementation of clear strategies for enforcing containment measures not only within the church, but throughout all public gatherings.

Non adherence to social distancing and other public health guidelines

Noting growing patterns on non-compliance with public health and safety protocols such as social distancing and sanitisation. This has been recorded nationwide, including service providers such as the ZUPCO bus, and other
businesses where there appears to be a relaxation regarding constant disinfection of workspaces;

  • We therefore remind businesses, service providers and the general populace that wearing masks alone is not the panacea to curbing the spread of the pandemic. This measure should be supported with actions such as social and physical distancing, disinfecting work spaces and use of hand sanitizers.
  • In the same breadth, we urge Government, Civil Society organisations and stakeholders to raise awareness on the WHO updated guidelines for proper use of masks.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)