Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 203 – WCoZ Situation Report

203 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 18 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 147, after 37 new cases were reported. Active cases went up to 238 after 5 new recoveries were recorded. The total number of recoveries still stands at 7 678. The death toll remains at 231.

We highlight the steady daily increase of COVID-19 cases and we further note that these cases are reported to be local transmission cases. We accordingly highlight increasing “super spreader” events in our communities right around the country. We note increasing social activities during weekends, including braai parties, frequent gatherings at beerhalls and drinking spots. Of particular concern, is the total disregard for COVID-19 regulations such as wearing of masks and physical distancing.

We raise the alarm on the increase in cases and the relaxation of measures without due regard to the retrofitting of public spaces including government offices, expansion of public transport providers and the enforcement of sanitisation in public transit modes and public spaces.

  • We urge enforcement officers to strengthen enforcement of COVID-19 regulations, in order to minimize the risk of exposure and contamination 

Emerging Critical Issues

A potential upsurge of COVID-19 cases 

We highlight indicating that a referral hospital in Mashonaland West province has been shut down following a COVID-19 outbreak, which has resulted in the death of one of the workers. This is particularly distressing as the Nation seems to have made progress in flattening the curve. Our monitoring has shown that while cases of COVID-19 have gone down, there is heightened relaxation by various institutions from strictly observing COVID-19 regulations and safety protocols. We are concerned that such conduct may pose a danger of a potential upsurge in COVID-19 cases

  • We continue to remind the public, Government, businesses and stakeholders that safety protocols remain critical COVID-19 prevention and containment measures even in the light of resumption of social and economic operations.
  • We reinforce our calls upon Government to continue to protect the constitutionally protected right to health for health workers by ensuring that they are not negligently exposed to COVID-19.
  • We urge the general populace to fortify their efforts in maintaining both mask wearing and physical distancing in every environment which may include work, food markets, public transport, places of worship or supermarkets.

The rise in Gender Based Violence 

We are concerned with the alarming increase in Gender-Based Violence cases in Zimbabwe, as reported by the Zimbabwe Republic Police today. This buttresses the findings of the research commissioned by WCoZ commissioned on the state of GBV, which revealed the following statistics:

  • 43% increase in reports of violence compared to May 2019 
  • 74% increase in reports of violence from the preceding month April 2020
  • 43.8% increase in physical violence
  • 80.3% increase in emotional violence
  • 42.4% increase in economic violence 

Further to that, early in May the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs revealed that psychological or emotional abuse has been the most recorded form of Gender Based Violence in Zimbabwe since the beginning of the lockdown. Studies have also shown that psychological stress and traumas in dealing with COVID-19, the lockdown and economic pressures, have also largely contributed to the increase of GBV cases. 

This shows the need to put in place mental wellness and psychological support for families and households as part of the COVID-19 National Response. We therefore recommend the following;

  • Prioritisation of mental health wellness and psychological support in the time of COVID-19. 
  • We commend the efforts to strengthen access to mental health care support to COVID-19 patients by the Ministry of Health and Child Care through the development of a “psychological first aid kit” which offers basic psychological support and the screening of persons showing strain and signs of mental health challenges. We urge the application of the same measures towards households and families. 
  • Government agencies, Ministry of Health and Child Care, the Zimbabwe Republic Police Victim Friendly Unit (VFU), Social Welfare Department, and Civil Society Organisations to prioritise awareness raising and support services for survivors of Gender Based Violence in the time of COVID-19.
  • Government to create and facilitate stronger solid community base for the welfare and protection of women and children, during emergency situations and recovery planning.
  • We reinforce our recommendations to stakeholders, CSOs and Government of Zimbabwe urgently to implement a dedicated ring-fenced budget to increase domestic funding for national GBV response.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe