Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 303 – WCoZ Situation Report

303 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 25 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 31 646 after 326 new cases were reported. All are local cases, of which the highest case tally was recorded in Mashonaland West at 66. We note that the hospitalisation rate on the 25th January 2021 went down to 255 hospitalised cases, 163 mild to moderate cases, 74 severe cases and 18 cases, in Intensive Care Units. Active cases, went down to 7 694, following 627 recoveries. The total number of recoveries, therefore, went up to 22 877. The recovery rate continues to rise, now standing at to 72.3%. The death toll has risen to 1 075 after 70 new deaths were recorded. 

The 21st day of the 2nd hard lockdown and the nation is grappling coming to terms with the highest daily death record of 70. May the departed souls rest in eternal peace. We are noting a trend in high death records reported by the Ministry of Health and Childcare every Monday, particularly with the report including deaths which will have occurred on the previous Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is therefore important for the Ministry to clearly articulate this in order to avoid conflicting reporting on their part and also  panic amongst the public who are led to believe that the death record is a cumulative number recorded in only 24 hours.

Critical Emerging Issue 

Social protection during lockdown

We emphasize the need for prioritization of women’s access to social safety nets during COVID-19 and the hard lockdown. We continue to amplify our concern that the majority of women in Zimbabwe and women-led households are facing the biggest impacts in food security, income loss, and caregiving burdens. 

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 similar to the subsidized mealie meal distribution program. 

  • We, therefore, urge Government to expand social safety nets and offset economic impacts for COVID-19 and the subsequent hard lockdown.
  • We call for the expansion of the cash transfer support to vulnerable households and the 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.

Outstanding issues

Prohibitive Costs of COVID-19 care

While the Ministry of Health and Child Care has presented on the status of hospital bed capacity, including the assertion that COVID-19 patients are being treated for free at Government Hospitals, which seems to give an impression that the situation is under control,  we highlight reports regarding the costs of COVID-19 care. Against a background where public hospitals are barely attending to citizens, where there are alleged reports of citizens with COVID-19 symptoms being turned away from public health institutions, citizens are faced with nothing more than home-based care.

We, therefore, decry the resultant privatisation of COVID-19 related healthcare, as reports show that public health institutions are not adequately equipped to treat and manage COVID-19 patients. As a result, citizens are placed on the path to private hospitals, where exorbitant fees are being charged.

We highlight the example of the Capital City, Harare where private institutions such as Health Point, Arundel, St Anne’s are charging between US$2 000 and US$5 000 based on the care required. Deposits for care are also being required with doctors in some instances charging US$1 000, prior to other costs being added. 

  • We call for a stronger approach to develop an integrated healthcare sector where the line between private health care and public healthcare is not as rigid and prohibitive to securing the right to health for citizens.
  • We urge policy makers to continue inquiries in this matter and to consider regulation of costs of access to healthcare.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe