Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 82 WCOZ Situation Report

82 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that as at the 19th of June 2020, the number of Covid-19 positive cases had increased to 479 cases. Noting that of the newly recorded 16 cases, 5 are from returnees, while 11 are local cases.

We note with concern that the reports of cases of local transmission by the Ministry of Health and Child Care do not indicate which provinces these cases are based for both positive local transmission tests for yesterday and today bringing the total to a notable 22 cases;

  • We continue to call for consistency in data disaggregation.
  • We call upon increased local testing.

Well aware that the Zimbabwean health sector has suffered from years of neglect and systemic de-prioritisation, and noting that the strain of the Covid-19 pandemic is resultantly, immensely exacerbated in Zimbabwe;

We recognise that the need to rapidly revive and resuscitate health infrastructure and all applicable value chains has placed enormous pressure on both health sector personnel and public service sector personnel as a whole in Government;

Further noting from reports that the annual inflation rate in Zimbabwe has reached a staggering 785.6% in May of 2020 from 765.6% in April 2020;

We continue to note with concern that Nurses and Doctors, public hospitals have gone on strike with immediate effect rejecting the US$75 Covid-19 allowance and 50% salary increment in local currency.

We note the continued demand of the public service who continue to demand their salaries to be paid completely in US dollars,

We however remain concerned that as the cases of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe rise and as some of the health personnel on strike are deployed in hospitals designated as coronavirus treatment centres, we there is an immediate practical erosion of the level of readiness of health sector to Covid-19 and other health crises in Zimbabwe.

  • We call upon government to expend its energies to resolving the public sector remuneration crisis utilising the Tripartite Negotiating Forum.

We remain concerned by failure to have access to reports of the formal industry and commerce sector reports of tests of Covid-19 cases. This is particularly in cases of meat processing and food processing companies, whose factory floors are well known globally to face real challenges effective social distancing and reporting high numbers of positive Covid-19.

  • We await the publication of private sector data on tests for Covid-19 which were due to be reported with the resumption of the formal sector.

We highlight that the Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe (PSZ) warning issued to the Ministry of Health and Child Care against the distribution of the Cloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine for the treatment and prevention of the Covid-19 as these drugs are still undergoing a variety of clinical tests and are yet to be approved for use.

Critical Issues

Price Hikes

We highlight worsening economic hardships in communities, both, rural and urban settings due to the loss of income earning capacity for most households;

Furthermore, reports from our networks today reveal sharp price hikes of basic commodities such as cooking oil, sugar and flour as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to lose value against the US dollar.

In Chinhoyi today, cooking oil 2 litres has been reportedly pegged at ZWL$237, while mealie meal a 10kg bag is ZWL$390. Aware that this situation increases the level of vulnerability of already struggling households and will force more and more families to go to bed on an empty stomach, particularly women-led households which fully rely on the informal economy;

  • We continue to remind Government, of section 77 of the Constitution, which guarantees every person the right to sufficient food, and places an obligation on the State to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.
  • We further urge the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and also the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe to investigate cases of illegal price hikes of basic commodities.
  • 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.

Report on status of testing of employees in public and private sectors

We reiterate the concerns regarding thousands of employees in both the private and public sectors making use of public transport, reporting for work, and coming into contact with others, without undergoing any Covid-19 tests.

Noting that over a month ago, Government made it mandatory for all employees to be tested for Covid-19;

  • We urge Government to update the Nation on the current status of compliance with this law, particularly for employees in the public sector. The Ministry of Health and Child-Care must publicize the statistics of Government employees who have been tested for Covid-19 since the gazetting of this particular law.

Outstanding Issues

Access to Water and Sanitation

We remain concerned at the inability of communities to access adequate water and sanitation during a global pandemic that requires increased levels of hygiene and in particular clean and safer potable water.

We highlight the reported outbreak of diarrhoea cases in Bulawayo which has seen over 60 patients admitted to Mpilo Hospital since the 6th of June 2020, the death of 5 persons and 12 admissions on Tuesday alone.

We raise concerns regarding the impact of the water rationing system in Bulawayo which has placed communities, women and children under phenomenal strain, as they seek to assess water on a daily basis on a system where water only comes once a week.

We note with concern the plight of women and children in Iminyela, Magwegwe, and Cowdray Part who have faced non-safe water over the past week and are reporting increased cases of diarrhoea.

We highlight the challenges faced by the communities of Redcliff and Kwekwe due to the non-functionality of the 4 out of 9 pumps in the country’s second largest water treatment facility after Morton Jeffery Water Works in Harare;

  • We reiterate our demand for a comprehensive national approach and plan to address the chronic and persistent shortages of water in Zimbabwe’s communities
  • We call upon increased expedition of operational and administrative responsiveness to communities in crisis not lonely by the constrained Local Authorities but by central government and its application national institutions to ensure that citizens are able to access water which is not only a right but also a central feature to the right to life.

Accountability and Transparency in Distribution to Covid-19 Supplies

We commend the update to the National Taskforce by the Ministry of Health and Child Care on the distribution of Covid-19 essential to all the Provincial and district medical centres;

We note that the distribution of personal protective equipment including was not limited to was not limited to face masks, aprons, theatre gowns;
We note further the distribution of Infrared thermometers and knapsack sprayers.

  • We continue to call for the publication for the distribution matrix to ensure that the highest standards of good governance, accountability and transparency.

Indeed such publication will assure communities, and the public at large the level of readiness that the health sector to be ready to handle potential incoming cases of positive Covid-19 cases.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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