Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 292 – WCoZ Situation Report

292 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 14 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 25 368, after 1 112 new cases were reported. All cases are local and 467 cases are from Harare alone. Active cases went down to 10 018, following a very high record of recoveries of 1 056 in only one day. The total number of recoveries now stands at 14 714. The recovery rate has now gone up to 58%. The death toll now stands at 636, after 47 new deaths were recorded. 

The death rate, when put into perspective, would mean that yesterday, approximately every 30 minutes, one person was succumbing to COVID-19 in Zimbabwe. This is not meant to cause alarm. Painful and distressing as it is, it is highly crucial for the public to view the effects of the pandemic through these lenses for stricter adherence to safety protocols and health practices which do not place communities in danger. We urge the public to observe the lockdown and health guidelines for effective control of the pandemic in Zimbabwe. The responsibility to ensure reduction of risk of exposure to the virus does not rest in Government alone but requires the responsibility and commitment of each person.

We commend the Ministry of Health and Child Care on advising the Nation on the current COVID-19 status in the country particularly on vaccines and Zimbabwe’s current Testing Capacity. It highlighted that currently that Zimbabwe has capacity to test at least 6 000 people per day. It would be important, however to highlight whether this testing capacity is in respect of public health institutions or is largely influenced by the Private Sector which currently is charging exorbitant prices for the PCR tests. We continue to reiterate the need to enhance the testing strategy by embarking on community mass-testing in order to determine the accurate prevalence of the pandemic in Zimbabwe, and effective infection control.

Critical Emerging Issues

Isolation Centres and Mandatory centres 

In light of the increasing COVID-19 cases which may require isolation and mandatory quarantine, we bring to the fore the status of isolation centres throughout the country. Reports from our networks indicate the non-operation of isolation centres or lack of adequate information on this issue in areas such as Kariba and Bulawayo. Given these challenges, we reiterate the need for the Ministry of Health and Child Care to officially communicate and publicize information regarding the state of isolation centres throughout all Provinces and Districts of Zimbabwe. 

  • We therefore urge Government to facilitate access to: 
    • Safe isolation centres which are not overcrowded and also cater for the needs and rights of women such as the availability of sanitary aids and sexual and reproductive health services. 
    • Appropriate and adequate provision of water and sanitization.

Outstanding Issue

Social protection during lockdown

We continue to raise the urgent need for Government to ensure that the lockdown is supported with the prioritisation of livelihood support in communities. We highlight that the lockdown can only be successful if citizens do not need to place themselves in danger as they seek to secure food, water and livelihood support. We underscore the fact that the inability of households to respect the lockdown is directly correlated to other persisting deprivation and insecurities they face on a day-to-day basis. The pandemic will continue to bedevil the nation, especially if the measures to increase access to social-economic goods and services, as part of strong social protection systems, are not implemented by Government. 

  • We therefore recommend that Government announces the direct distribution of basic commodities and food in communities in a similar way to the subsidized mealie meal distribution program. 
  • We call for the expansion of the cash transfer support to vulnerable households and a direct increase of the amounts to support vulnerable households.
  • We call for the provision of support for households who are no longer able to sustain themselves due to loss of livelihoods, especially women-led households.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe