Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 105 – WCoZ Situation Report

A Call for Re-strategizing and New Actions for Covid-19

105 days of Covid-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, to date since the beginning, Zimbabwe has conducted a total of 36,399 PCR tests, and 52,037 Rapid Screening tests. The Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that, as at 11 July 2020, the total number of Covid-19 cases had increased to 982 after 40 new cases had tested positive. Sadly, the death toll now stands at 14, following 5 newly recorded deaths. We send our love and prayers to the family and loved ones of the deceased. 

We remain gravely concerned that the week of 5-11 July has held the highest number of deaths of Covid-19 patients whilst an alarming spike in cases both from imported and local cases has risen sharply.

  • We call for increased testing in Zimbabwe. 
  • We call for the increased access to tests in community testing to support a community tracing agenda. 

We call for national leaders, in particular, Ministers of Government, Members of Parliament, Senior Government Officials, and Councillors who are engaged in public events and public meetings to ensure that strictest adherence to wearing of face masks and visible sanitization protocols.

The messaging of the seriousness of Covid-19 crisis needs to demonstrated at the highest levels of decision-making to ensure that the public accordingly direct themselves to greater adherence of simple day to day actions to support the flattening of the curve.

We further call for the cancellation of the resumption of schools on the 28th of July 2020. The level of preparedness at all levels of the education value sector and ancillary public services is inadequate to justify the opening of schools in a context of the curve which is rising.

As the cases of the Covid-19 surge in Zimbabwe we await the distribution matrix of the Covid-19 supplies and interventions to determine the capacities of communities across the country to respond to the potential surge in cases.

We call for a deeply considered approach to the potential of reversal to higher levels of lockdown. While infections that are reported, tested and confirmed lie in specific provinces, this does not exclude such rises in infections in other provinces and in particular in the context of inadequately traced local transmissions broadly.

We are deeply concerned by the reports that 209 persons have escaped mandatory quarantine and isolation centres. This creates a significant risk to the ability to address the spread the Covid-19.

The incidents raise real concerns over the effectiveness of measures adopted three weeks ago to address security concerns in Covid-19 centres and further they raise ongoing and unaddressed concerns of the conditions in mandatory quarantine and isolation centres.

The centres are spaces to best support the cooperation of individuals against the spread of Covid-19. Further, the centres are the real test of the effectiveness of government interventions in addressing the concerns of those who are testing positive. 

We are concerned by the increase of Covid-19 positive cases in the health sector. This is a critical point of contention as the health sector is the frontline of the battle against Covid-19 and must be protected and prioritised at the highest levels.

We are deeply concerned by the lack of public reporting on the ability of health centres to manage very possible hospitalisations and high dependency units with regards to potential surges in cases.

We note the incoming cold weather which will coincide with the prevailing increased cases and we question the measures in place, to ensure that the period of cold weather does not result in undue increases in Covid-19 cases.

Critical Emerging Issues

Price Hikes

Gravely concerned with the increases in prices of basic commodities. This week, our networks reported that a 2 kg of sugar was retailing averagely at ZWL $160, 2 Litres cooking oil at ZWL $285, and ZWL $10kg mealie meal at ZWL$480.

We are further dismayed by poor enforcement of the price moratorium which was announced by Government in April. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce, this week, conceded that the price moratorium had failed to materialise, attributing the failure to the volatile exchange rate.

  • 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 therefore query policy measures put in place by Government to ensure that citizens access basic commodities at affordable prices during Covid-19.

Religious gatherings

Today marked the 4th Sunday, since the restriction on church gatherings was lifted. Reports from our grassroots champions and networks, in Ushewokunze, Murehwa and Chivi areas, reveal a huge number of congregants attended their respective churches of worship. The reports continue to reveal lack of adherence to safety protocols and public health guidelines such as use of masks, physical distancing and use of sanitizers. This is worrying, considering the rise in Covid-19 cases, especially community transmissions.

  • We urge church leaders to safeguard their congregants by ensuring strict compliance with the containment laws and public health guidelines.
  • We further urge the development and implementation of clear strategies for enforcing containment measures not only within the church, but throughout all public gatherings.

Hunger and delays in implementing social protection measures

We have been consistently raising the direct correlation between the on-going lockdown on the informal sector and hunger in communities. We have raised with alarm and despair the unacceptable position that of the 1 million citizens targeted for social protection support, only 1 in five persons, has actually received the intended support. 

  • We continue to raise alarm on the limitations of urban food security programs, which remain limited in its reach and only being accessed by the same persons who were already being supported prior to the lockdown. 
  • We recommend the expedited implementation of social protection programs for all vulnerable households in the time of  Covid-19.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe