61 days into the lockdown and the Ministry of Health and Child Care reports that as at 28 May, the total number of confirmed cases now stands at 149 as per the report dated for yesterday the 28th of May 2020. We note that as at 8:30 pm the daily report for today, the 29th of May is still not publicised. We note with concern the lateness and irregular hours with which the Ministry issues the daily reports. These reports are in the public interest and are directed for public consumption and missing the main news cycle of the day in the country is of concern.
We commend the healthcare personnel who are striving to provide critical healthcare support during this difficult time and we applaud our healthcare personnel at Gweru Provincial Hospital for successfully conducting the delivery of a pregnant mother who tested positive for COVID-19. We note the milestone that this case represents for our healthcare community and we continue to applaud their efforts under difficult conditions. We extend our best wishes to the mother new-born and their families.
We thank you for the job well done!
We note with concern that the closure of points of entry have limited the repatriation of bodies to Zimbabwe for burials.
Aware that such a situation places citizens in great mental and social distress;
- We call upon Government to update the nation on modalities to support the repatriation of the Zimbabwean dead for burial at home.
- We call upon wide publication of advisory note for families who may be anticipating travel to border points to collect or accompany the dead to their final resting places clear guidelines on their potential inter provincial and inter district travel.
Critical Emerging Issues
1. Lockdown unlocking
Reports from our networks continue to 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, Chivi, Kwekwe, Murehwa and Chinhoyi, where citizens are reportedly conducting business as usual.
Concerned that in rural communities there is weak adherence to the 50 person restriction at burials;
Noting that reports of widespread operation of beer-halls and drink spots in rural communities continue to be on the rise across the country.
Concerned that citizens clearly consider the risk of infections to be within mandatory quarantine centres and ignore the reality of the existence of local transmission unnecessarily increasing their risk to exposure, We therefore call for stronger awareness and enforcement in communities.
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
- 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.
- We urge citizens to maintain physical and social distancing to ensure that they reduce their risk to exposure to COVID-19 infection.
2. Protection of the prison populations
The news of the high cases of COVID-19 in quarantine centres, which are places of confinement, raises serious concerns over the failure to address the nation specifically of this vulnerable population.
Whilst we acknowledge the clemency that was directed at decongestion of prisons we remain concerned at the exposure of detainees to COVID-19 at point of arrest and prisoners who are interacting with officials who move in and out of the prisons areas.
We remain awaiting the update on the capacity and readiness of Government to contain the spread of COVID-19 within the prison population. In light of the fact that we are now at 2months since the lockdown began an update on this group of persons is critical.
Further aware, that on a daily basis there are new entrants who are sent to remand prison from the outside world, where they may have been exposed to the virus and remain asymptomatic.
Aware that most of our detention facilities may not be capacitated enough and that social distancing rules may be difficult to enforce.
- We buttress our calls upon Government to urgently publicize and implement a comprehensive crisis plan to cater for the rights, needs and safety of detainees in the COVID-19 era.
- Paying particular attention to vulnerable detainees such as juveniles, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and those with underlying health conditions.
3. Livelihoods and the review of the lockdown measures
The sharp rise in positive cases, may require more stringent measures to ensure lockdown enforcement. Understanding that an indefinite extension of the lockdown points to further economic shocks and impoverishment of households, particularly those in the informal sector.
Concerned that only 200 000 households have received the vulnerability livelihood support grants despite a target of 1 million households 61 days into the lockdown.
And aware that Government on the weekend will be reviewing the lockdown:
- We emphasize that whatever decision arrived at, must not be dictated by the State but must be supported by the citizens through appropriate consultations.
- We underscore that meaningful economic stimulation packages must be offered to the citizens in order to alleviate economic shocks imposed by the lockdown.
- Furthermore, we continue to urge the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare to expedite disbursement of food aid and grants to vulnerable communities in a transparent manner, without any political interference.
4. 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 further 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;
- i. The right to human dignity
- ii. The right not to be tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading, treatment or punishment
- iii. The right to life
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)