134 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that, as at 9 August 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 4 649 confirmed cases after 74 cases tested positive, 57 of these are local transmissions. The death toll now stands at 104. Recoveries are at 1437 cases.
We note the updates pertaining to the state of COVID-19 in relation to the prison population. We commend the steps made to inform the nation on the protocols regarding stemming the spread of the disease to this critical population. However we continue to draw attention to practical gaps in the movement of the persons from public spaces at point of arrest or detention to Remand to Prisons. We call for practical steps to protect the staffers and detainees and prisoners in transportation, food and housing conditions of the vulnerable population sustainably. Whilst we note the efforts made in regards to prevention of the spread of the disease we continue to encourage the Government to strengthen efforts regarding adequate treatment and safeguarding the vulnerable detainee and prison population when cases of COVID-19 occur.
Critical Emerging Issues
Illegal entry points
Today our networks have been noting COVID-19 related funerals within their rural communities. Of concern is the observation that relatives of the deceased travelling from as far as neighbouring countries such as South Africa, without really going through mandatory quarantine. One such report has been noted in Gokwe. Such growing reports of returnees who are utilising illegal entry points, have caused panic among communities, as they fear the risk of infection.
- We remain concerned with lack of security at various illegal entry points, which may expose communities to the to the risk of COVID-19, as returnees who utilise such illegal entry points are not subjected to testing.
Prioritisation of fundamental freedoms of persons in quarantine
We note distressing reports of returnees being over detained at Quarantine centres, particularly at Mushagashe Quarantine centre in Masvingo. Reports reveal that returnees who completed their mandatory 21-day quarantine period, are yet to be released nor informed of their test results.
Concerned that these developments are recurring incidents at mandatory quarantine centres. Furthermore, understanding from various reports the poor conditions at certain quarantine facilities, are deplorable;
- We urge Government to ensure prioritisation of the needs and fundamental freedoms of persons held in quarantine, so as to avoid over-detention of citizens within quarantine facilities.
- We further demand an update from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, in respect of test-kit availability and the backlog of cases at the laboratories in the country, and the capacity of the Ministry to expedite the completion of backlog cases.
Price hikes and hunger
The latest statistics published by ZIMSTAT, reveal that the Poverty Datum Line for an average household in June, was at ZWL$4 749. We note that the majority of households, especially women-led households have failed to surpass this line, as the situation of majority of the vulnerable households has worsened under COVID-19, due to the lockdown and loss of income. This means that such households are plainly and wholly relying upon the Government for their very survival. Whilst we appreciate the economic constraints faced by the Government;
- We buttress our call for appropriate and equitable prioritisation of the state resources to address the hunger crises faced by the country.
- We continue to urge for the report on the provision of food to those in urban communities.
- We reiterate calls for an update on the UN Global Call to address food insecurity in Zimbabwe.
- We call for an update on the provision of subsidised mealie meal in the country.
Deteriorating health sector and impact on women
As we continue to witness the deterioration of the health sector, and incapacitation of public hospitals. Appreciating the dire consequences this will have on the systems’ responsiveness to COVID-19. Further noting that such incapacitation has resulted in women failing to access certain health services including maternal services;
- We urge the immediate resuscitation of the health sector.
- We further recommend implementation of strategies to ensure adequate support for all health workers, including PPE and sufficient COVID-19 allowances.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe