Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 88 WCoZ Situation Report

88 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that as at 25 June 2020, the total number of Covid-19 cases had risen to 551, after 21 new cases were recorded from returnees.

Critical Emerging Issues

Arrests and adherence to safety protocols 

The Zimbabwe Republic Police has reported that on 24 June 2020 alone, a total of 1 129 persons throughout the country were arrested for various offences in relation to contravention of the lockdown regulations.  This brings the total cumulative arrests to 78 412 since the lockdown. 

  • We continue to urge security agents, in executing their mandate to be alive to the real threat of Covid-19, and be more cautious when carrying out arrests, by desisting from actions that may endanger both their lives and those of offenders. 
  • We urge observance of physical distancing of arrested persons, the use of sanitizers and disinfection of the cells.

More escapees from quarantine facilities 

Emerging reports continue to highlight recurring incidents of persons absconding quarantine. While earlier this week, statistics showed that a total of 3 Covid-19 patients escaped quarantine in Harare and Beitbridge, bringing the cumulative total of escapees to 184, new reports indicate that in the past 24 hours the number had risen to 187. 

The Zimbabwe Republic Police reports that 3 persons escaped from Murehwa training centre quarantine. Again, these reports point to inadequate surveillance and security measures within the quarantine facilities. We note this as great concern, especially in light of the spiralling Covid-19 cases being recorded from returnees;

  • We urge the authorities to investigate the security activities within the Government-run centres which make it possible for patients escape.
  • We call upon Government to reinforce and strengthen its security systems at quarantine and isolation centres.

Water and sanitation

Communities continue to face challenges in accessing adequate water and sanitation. We note that this global pandemic requires increased levels of hygiene and in particular, clean and safer potable water. We highlight the plight of women in Kwekwe, Gweru, Bulawayo and other surrounding areas who have been placed under phenomenal strain, as they seek to assess water through other alternative means;

  • We therefore urge the critical need for the rapid escalation of medium- and long-term water solutions as part of the Covid-19 response actions;
  • We therefore reiterate our demand for a comprehensive national approach and plan to address the chronic and persistent shortages of water in Zimbabwe’s communities.
  •  We call upon an increased expedition of operational and administrative responsiveness to communities in crisis not only by the constrained Local Authorities but by central government and its applicable national institutions to ensure that citizens are able to access water.

Outstanding Issue

Gendered response in quarantine and isolation centres

Statistics released by the Ministry of Health and Childcare reveal that currently there is a total of 2 019 quarantined persons nationwide. Of these 1025 are women, 858 are men and 136 are children. It is important to note that women constitute a highest percentage of the quarantined persons. This opens up reflections on gender-specific issues such as sexual abuse, violence and hygiene. 

It further calls for a gendered responsiveness and preparedness within the centres, in order to ensure security and safeguarding of women and children, who are the most vulnerable sections of the population;

  • We reiterate our recommendation on accelerated safeguarding measures within the centres through the integration of Sexual and Gender Based Violence prevention and response mechanisms into the Quarantine Centres Management, including training of staff on how to properly service different genders.
  • We further recommend establishment of protection Guidelines and Dissemination of information in the 14 National Languages, on sexual violence within the centres and the help available.

Source: Women’s Coalition in Zimbabwe