326 days of the COVID-19 lockdown and as of 17 February 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 35 423 with a reported recording of 108 new cases. All are local cases, of which the highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 57 cases and Mashonaland West with the second highest tally at 19 new cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate, as of 1500 hrs on the 16th of February 2021, went up to 126 hospitalised cases, 4 asymptomatic, 82 mild to moderate cases, 35 severe cases and 5 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down further to 2 390 as the total number of recoveries went up to 31 615 increase by 636. The recovery rate increased to 89.2%. The death toll has risen to 1 418 after 4 new deaths were recorded.
The 40th day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we note the rollout of the vaccine earlier today. We continue to urge transparency and accountability in the entire vaccination rollout plan. We further urge the inclusion of vulnerable populations such as persons with disabilities.
Critical Emerging Issue
Community mass testing
We note reports in the public domain wherein communities are not fully confident in the efficacy of tracing and testing currently being undertaken, especially in light of the vaccine rollout currently underway. We emphasize the need for an advanced testing strategy that 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 urge against de-prioritisation of testing, over the vaccine rollout.
- We further urge complete re-prioritisation of mass-based community testing and mass-based community tracing.
- 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 all members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and all lockdown enforcement officers.
Community based isolation centres
We continue to raise concerns with placing the burden of treatment and management of COVID-19 on communities, particularly, where there are no supportive community-based mechanisms to support the undue and inappropriate home-based care model in effect. We continue to decry the lack of fully equipped isolation centres supported by the central government, thereby forcing patients to resort to home-based care. We continue to note the fact that management and treatment of COVID-19 in homes does not receive any form of support from Government, which may include PPE, thereby exposing and expanding the risks of infection to communities. In light of the potential mutations to the virus, this continues to be a real danger.
- We call for the designation of appropriate centres as community isolation centres and support to those centres.
- We urge expediting the establishment of community isolation centres in other districts to ensure easy access by communities.
- We further emphasize prioritisation of the needs and rights of women including sexual and reproductive health services in isolation centres.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe