240 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 24 November 2020, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 9 398 after 90 new local cases were reported. Active cases went up to 827. The total number of recoveries now stands at 8 297 after 9 new recoveries were recorded. The death toll has risen to 274 following 1 new death.
We continue to highlight growing concerns regarding outbreaks of COVID-19 in school communities across the country.
Whilst we commend Government efforts regarding testing in schools wherein either pupils or staff have tested positive for COVID-19, we remain increasingly concerned about the reach of testing in affected communities.
We note with concern real gaps in contact tracing in regard to the lived realities of schools that have both boarding and day schooling facilities. We urge schooling communities that have not reported the cases of COVID-19 in their respective communities, when students or pupils have indeed tested positive, to declare their incidents publicly to avoid unnecessary fear within communities.
Critical emerging issues
Community mass testing
While noting the rising statistics of active cases, and the increased relaxation of the lockdown, we recognize the need for an advanced testing strategy which ensures community mass testing and contact tracing. We submit that in the absence of mass community testing and public accounting for local transmission case-tracing, it is impossible to determine the appropriate reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic prevalence in Zimbabwe.
- We recommend that testing be extended to communities. Communities must be directly supported to understand the processes regarding contact tracing to avoid unnecessary fear and stigmatisation without both testing and community counseling systems being implemented.
- We call for stronger testing support for communities within schools that have learners and teachers testing positive for COVID-19 to ensure community-based support for COVID interventions and real-time tracing of the reach of the pandemic nationally.
- We recommend that Government provides a clear plan of action to maintaining vigilance on COVID-19 on testing tracing and treatment for the current period to mid-year 2021.
- We further reinforce our call for an advanced testing strategy in the Public sector and urge Government to update the Nation on the progress of testing of all members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, and all lockdown enforcement officers.
Safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights in the time of COVID-19
We continue to bring to the fore, safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights, during COVID-19. This is anchored on the adequate representation of women in decision-making positions within the COVID-19 response structures. We emphasize that women’s solutions should be informed by women’s experiences and lived realities.
We therefore highlight the lack of adequate women’s representation in various COVID-19 structures. We provide the following recommendations:
- A gender lens approach to all COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery efforts by Government, Parliament, decision-makers, local authorities and other stakeholders.
- Inclusion of more women’s rights organisations in the taskforce structures.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe