74 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
Security Services and Arrests
Reports from right across Zimbabwe indicate that the security agents are failing to adhere to the public health safety protocols when effecting arrests. Reports indicate lack of physical distancing and use of hand sanitizers for offenders. Such actions expose both the security forces and the offenders to Covid-19 infection, thereby resulting in a wider community spread and transmission;
- We therefore urge security agents to be alive to the real threat of Covid-19, and be more cautious when carrying out arrests, by desisting from actions that may endanger both their lives and those of offenders.
In the same breadth, noting that security agents, are exposed to the public every day;
- We request a report on the status of testing of all security agents currently enforcing the lockdown.
Restrictions in movements
Reports from our networks highlight inconsistencies in lockdown enforcement particularly on movements restrictions. Reports from Kwekwe, Mutare and Bulawayo reveal instances where the security forces have been turning away citizens with travel letters, advising them that only permits issued by Government Ministries were considered as valid for the purposes of travel.
Such policy and practice inconsistencies, stem from the wide discretion that has been provided by the law to the enforcing officers.
Reports also indicate that even citizens who are exempted as essential services have been continuously denied the right of movement by the security forces;
- We call for an official position on movement, travel permits and essential services, as we have noted some growing inconsistences.
- We further call upon the enforcing agents to exercise restraint and avoid unleashing terror and violence upon communities, under the guise of enforcing the lockdown.
Testing in Quarantine Centres
As the number of Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Quarantine centres, and concerned that the centres may become hotspots for infection, with little capacity for early detection of cases. Noting varying reports and scientific evidence on the accuracy of PCR tests and rapid diagnostic tests;
- We recommend that all persons admitted into quarantine, be tested for Covid-19 through PCR on Day 0 of the quarantine, in order to facilitate for early detection of cases.
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 continue to 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.
Testing kit availability in the country
Noting 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 reiterate our recommendation on 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)