83 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that as at the 19th of June 2020, the number of Covid-19 positive cases had increased to 479 cases. Noting that of the newly recorded 16 cases, 5 are from returnees, while 11 are local cases.
Zimbabwe today recorded the fifth death from Covid-19 in Gweru, Midlands. We extend our sincere condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of the yet unnamed patient and call upon the nation to maintain vigilance as the reported and tested cases of local transmission continue to increase indicating a local prevalence of Covid-19.
We reiterate our call for the improvement conditions of mandatory quarantine and isolation centres.
Whilst we note efforts to ameliorate the conditions in these centres, we continue to be concerned at reports of person sharing rooms with up to 15 persons per room in some cases, limited access to clean safe water, limited Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights services and products as well as poor sanitary conditions.
We remain distressed by accounts of the quarantine centres by persons exiting such centres on the need to have well rounded need to be addressed urgently to ensure that returnees are better able to cooperate with quarantine.
We note that 20th June is World Refugee Day under the theme “Every Action Counts”, and we note that in the time of Covid-19, the vulnerabilities of asylum seekers and refugees are particularly increased and required increased responsiveness from host states;
We call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure:
- rights of forcibly displaced people are respected.
- protection measures of refugees and displaced persons are strengthened
- maintenance of processes and practicalities to facilitate the right to seek asylum despite the current border closures and inter-provincial travel restrictions.
- provision of psychosocial support services and enforce measures to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence to vulnerable migrant women and communities.
We continue to raise awareness on the malaria outbreak which has encumbered a health system scrambling to cope with the additional pressures of Covid-19,
We note the recorded and reported cases in Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East with a total of 320,606 cases and 307 deaths, during the period 1 January 2020 to 24 May 2020,
We note with alarm, the rapid rate of infections in the third week of May (18 to 24 May) which recorded a spike of 12,824 malaria cases and five deaths were reported with the highest numbers of cases in the above-mentioned provinces. Whilst we note that the rate of infections is decreasing we;
- Call upon an increased frequency and public update on the malaria outbreak in the country.
We commend the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for releasing clarification on suspension of electoral activities;
- We urge the Commission to expedite development of its COVID-19 Electoral Practice Policy to guide stakeholders and the electorate on how to conduct themselves during and after the electoral processes without exposing themselves to COVID-19.
- We further emphasize that the development of such Policy should be informed with extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders and the citizens.
Critical Emerging Issues
Accountability and Transparency in Distribution and procurement to Covid-19 Supplies
Reports continue to highlight the irregularities and lack of transparency in the procurement and distribution of Covid-19 supplies.
- We urge openness in the procurement processes of Covid-19 supplies, including awarding of tenders and contracts.
- Furthermore, we continue to call for the publication for the distribution matrix of Covid-19 supplies to ensure that the highest standards of good governance, accountability and transparency.
Indeed, such publication will assure communities, and the public at large the level of readiness that the health sector to be ready to handle potential incoming cases of positive Covid-19 cases.
We highlight worsening economic hardships in communities, both, rural and urban settings due to the loss of income earning capacity for most households;
Furthermore, reports from our networks today reveal sharp price hikes of basic commodities such as cooking oil, sugar and flour as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to lose value against the US dollar. In Chinhoyi today, Cooking oil 2 Litres has been reportedly pegged at ZWL$237, while a mealie meal $10kg bag is ZWL$390. These prices are far beyond the reach of most citizens who are dependent largely due to informal sector which remains lockdown 83 days into the pandemic and against a rapidly re-dollarizing economy whose parallel market exchange rate, dominates the economic transactions.
Aware that this situation increases the level of vulnerability of already struggling households and will force more and more families to go to bed on an empty stomach, particularly women-led households which fully rely on the informal economy;
- 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.
- We further urge the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and also the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe to investigate cases of illegal price hikes of basic commodities.
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 interferance
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.
Reports from Chivi, Murehwa and other surrounding areas show that a big section of the population is no longer complying with the use of face-masks.
- We therefore remind businesses, service providers and the general populace, that the sharp increase in the number of community transmissions, require us intensify our COVID-19 prevention efforts.
This includes strict adherence public health guidelines such as social and physical distancing, disinfecting work spaces, face masks and use of hand sanitizers.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe