294 days of the COVID Lockdown and, as of 16 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 26 881, after 772 new cases were reported. All cases are local and 274 cases are from Harare alone. The second-highest number of cases are from Midlands province with 160 cases recorded today. Active cases continue to go up to 10 326, after 458 new recoveries. The total number of recoveries now stands at 15 872. The recovery rate holds steady at 59%. The death toll now stands at 666, after 17 new deaths were recorded.
The 12th day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we continue to be alarmed at the reports of fake COVID-19 certificates being issued even by certified laboratories. Whilst we note the effort made by Government to accredit and approve laboratories for COVID-19 testing, reports indicate that the costs of fake COVID-19 certificates range from between USD20 – USD45. We therefore continue to urge engagement on the prohibitive costs of PCR testing. We emphasize that the demand for tests is critical and hence it is progressive and highly beneficial for public testing to be made affordable in private institutions, and free of charge in public institutions.
Critical Emerging Issues
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 the capacity to test at least 6 000 people per day.
- We urge Government to clarify 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 note the careful language of the statement and call for clarification of whether the testing capacity of 6000 is an actual reflection of the number of test kits actually available on the ground.
- 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.
Update on the state of COVID-19 in Prisons
We commend the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services for shedding light on the current COVID-19 state in prisons. According to media reports, since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe last year, a total of 510 people tested positive, with 203 being inmates, 223 being prison officers and 84 being dependants of prison officers. Of the 510, 456 are said to have recovered while 4 died. Currently, the ZPCS is managing 50 COVID-active COVID-19 cases. We regard this information as critical, especially as prisoners are one of the most vulnerable groups in society, whose vulnerability has been exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate measures reported to have been put in place by ZPCS in curbing the spread of the disease in prisons which include random and regular testing of inmates and prison staff.
- We however continue to emphasize the need to protect this vulnerable group by adopting robust measures which ensure that all persons are tested before being committed to any prison or holding cell where they may potentially expose others to the risk of COVID-19
- We call on Government to provide the nation with an update on the status of COVID-19 in law enforcement officers including in the correctional services.
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 which also cater for the needs and rights of women such as the availability of sanitary aid and sexual and reproductive health services.
- Appropriate and adequate provision of water and sanitization.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe