73 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Childcare reported that as at the 10th of June 2020, the number of COVID-19 positive cases had increased to 320 cases. The Harare Province leads with a total of 108 cumulative cases. Matabeleland North so far, has recorded the lowest cases with a total of 6 cases.
Critical Emerging Issues
ZUPCO a potential health hazard
Growing reports reveal a huge outcry over the public transport system ZUPCO and its waning responsiveness to COVID-19. This comes after Government recently announced that ZUPCO buses may now carry more passengers in one trip than was previously permitted.
Reports show that most of the ZUPCO buses are no longer maintaining public health safety protocols such as physical distancing, sanitization and temperature checks.
This raises concern that such slackening may affect the system’s ability to detect potential COVID-19 cases amongst the commuting public, thus exposing the public to infection;
- We therefore call for the strict implementation of public health safety protocols in the public transport system.
- We urge enforcement agents to ensure that physical distancing is upheld by the ZUPCO transport operator.
Poor coordination at quarantine and isolation centres.
We continue to note the challenges being highlighted in respect of the quarantine and isolation centres, particularly in Harare where reports have been made of inmates being detained beyond the specified quarantine period, due to delays in tests.
We commend the release of over 200 detainees within the mandatory quarantine and isolation centres. We commend the good practice of providing reports on mandatory quarantine and isolation centre updates including operational policy shifts given today by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
In other cases, it has been revealed that inmates do not have adequate Personal Protective Equipment, hence increasing their risk of exposure. This raises concern that the quarantine centres, indeed, may have become hotspots for infection, thus defeating the very purpose for which they were established in the first place.
- We therefore urge Government to facilitate access to:
- Safe quarantine centres which are not overcrowded, and where social distancing is effectively enforced.
- Appropriate and adequate provision of PPE to inmates and quarantine staff.
- Access to information by inmates regarding their stay their procedures to be followed upon their release, their ability to communicate with friends and family
Testing kit availability in the country
We also note growing reports highlighting shortages in Covid-19 test kits. Furthermore, it appears that much focus and resources have been directed towards testing the returnees, and that community mass testing may have weakened.
- We therefore recommend equal attention to be directed towards community testing.
- Furthermore, we urge the Ministry of Health and Child-Care to produce a report on the availability of test-kits in Zimbabwe.
Price hikes and hunger
Remaining concerned with reports indicating price hikes for basic commodities, particularly our networks in Shurugwi, Mrewa, Chipinge, Kariba report that 2kg sugar is averagely pegged at ZWL$170, and 2litres cooking oil at ZWL$220.
This scenario must be understood against the background that Government through its social protection programs, intends to give out ZWL$300 in mobile money, per household, as a means to alleviate economic shocks on vulnerable households.
Furthermore, it should be understood that the situation of majority of the vulnerable households has worsened under COVID-19, due to the lockdown and loss of income. This means that such households are plainly and wholly relying upon the Government for their very survival.
Whilst we appreciate the economic constraints faced by the Government;
- We buttress our call for appropriate and equitable prioritisation of the state resources to address the hunger crises faced by the country.
- We continue to urge for the report on the provision of food to those in urban communities.
- We reiterate calls for an update on the UN Global Call to address food insecurity in Zimbabwe.
- We call for an update on the provision of subsidised mealie meal in the country.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe