60 days into the lockdown, and we witness unprecedented increase of the COVID-19 positive cases.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care reports that the total number of confirmed cases now stands at 149. It also reports that the majority of the cases are returnees currently held in quarantine facilities.
Critical Emerging Issues
1. Security for Mandatory Quarantine and Isolation Centres
The public has continued to raise concerns pertaining to the low security levels at the mandatory quarantine facilities amid the increasing cases of abscondment by returnees.
We note with concern that 118 persons have absconded from mandatory quarantine and isolation centres.
Appreciating the need to enhance security systems;
- We emphasize the fundamental need for respect of human rights during the strengthening of security at these critical centres
- We urge Government to ensure that strengthened security at mandatory quarantine and isolation centres must not be utilised as a vehicle for abuse of human rights during enforcement.
- We urge our security forces to exercise extreme restraint and resistant the use of force in the discharge of their duties at mandatory quarantine centres.
- We continue to draw attention to section 86 of the Constitution, which states that no law or person may limit or violate the following rights, under any circumstances, whatsoever;
- The right to human dignity
- The right not to be tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading, treatment or punishment
- The right to life
2. Illegal entry points at the Borders
Growing reports of returnees who are utilising illegal entry points, have caused panic among communities, as they fear the risk of infection.
We note that Government has announced plans to prioritise the funding of border roads, procurement of drones, and to enable enforcement agents to effectively monitor the country’s borders and ensure that all returnees are subjected to the containment protocols.
- While we appreciate these efforts, we remain concerned that border communities continue to be exposed to the risk of COVID-19, as they are not subjected to testing.
- We note with concern the limited community testing and tracing mechanisms within border communities across the country.
- We urge government to resist the temptation to address the illegal entry of person as a strictly security matter but to engage in strong community awareness and community resource support to ensure communities may secure the cooperation of citizens who may be in fear of conditions in mandatory quarantine centres.
- Moreover, particularly concerning, is the fact that Government has not yet specifically addressed the issue of repatriation of the deceased persons. We therefore call for an urgent attention to the continuing need of citizens to be able to bring back their relatives and bury them home.
3. Water shortages
Water challenges remain of overriding concern throughout the country, particularly in areas such as Bulawayo and Harare.
Noting the extension and expanded program to provide rehabilitation of water boreholes and the drilling of new boreholes to support health centres and mandatory isolation and quarantine centre.
We remain concerned with the apparent approach on boreholes as a primary mechanism in addressing water challenges. Such interventions, may not be sustainable in the long run in addressing the perennial water challenges.
While we acknowledge national level efforts to support specific local authority jurisdictions in addressing the chronic shortage of water;
- We call for a comprehensive strategy, to be implemented at both long- and short-term levels.
1. Lockdown unlocking
Reports from our networks indicate a general relaxation by the public in observing social distancing and other containment measures. This has been particularly witnessed in areas such as Plumtree, Bulawayo, Kwekwe, Harare Southlea Park, where citizens are reportedly conducting business as usual.
We also note that Government has announced that the country is still in lockdown, and hence exemption letters for essential services are still required for movement.
Concerned that failure to adequately observe social and physical distancing may erode all the gains recorded so far in the COVID-19 battle.
Especially concerned as the number of positive COVID-19 cases are on the rise.
While we applaud efforts by the provincial leadership in Bulawayo, encouraging the public to observe social distancing and other containment measures,
- We continue to call upon the general populace on the need to fortify their efforts in maintaining both social and physical distancing, in every environment which may include work, public transport, food markets or supermarkets.
2. Testing in quarantine facilities
We raise concerns regards the testing protocols in mandatory quarantine facilities.
The situation may point to the fact that the testing mechanisms remain severely limited and insufficient, which in turn may lead to frustrations and in certain circumstances, to abscondment of the facilities by returnees.
- We therefore urge the Government of Zimbabwe, to step up and address the preparedness and testing capacity within mandatory quarantine centres to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This SITREP is developed by and through the collective network of organisational and individual members of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe who are engaged at community levels to national levels in the COVID19 Zimbabwe response.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)