95 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that as at 1 July 2020, the total number of Covid-19 had increased to 605 after 14 new cases tested positive. 13 new confirmed cases are local cases, while 1 case is a returnee from South Africa.
We highlight the warning issued by the WHO on the re-opening of socio-economic activities as cases of Covid-19 rise. We highlight the rise in global deaths due to Covid-19 which have risen past the 500 000 mark. We reiterate that the Zimbabwean context is characterised by a rise in cases, in particular local transmission cases whose tracing remains unaccounted for we therefore call upon the exercise of extreme caution in reopening of sectors and slower paced relaxation of measures and resumption of the education sector.
We note the Announcement by the Ministry of Health and Childcare on the adoption of dexamethasone as a drug to treat Covid-19 patient with severe symptoms. This progressive measure is in line with recent WHO guidelines and international best practice in the treatment of Covid-19.
We further note with commendation that Ministry confirmation that the country has large stock of the drug which can be purchased for a little as $2.
- We however remain interested in the report on when this treatment regime began in the Zimbabwean hospitals and the applicable.
Critical Emerging Issues
We have been consistently raising the direct correlation between the on-going lockdown on the informal sector and hunger in communities. We have raised with alarm and despair the unacceptable position that of the 1 million citizens targeted for social protection support, only 1 in five persons, has actually received the intended support. We continue to raise alarm on the limitations of urban food security programs, which remain limited in its reach and only being accessed by the same persons who were already being supported prior the lockdown.
We therefore raise great distress calls and alarm on the rise of cases of malnutrition in pregnant women and children. We note the published reports indicating the rise in malnutrition within the limited time period of the lockdown.
- The reports that 1.1 million women and children will require nutritional assistance due to hunger.
- 25 priority districts in the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment (ZimVAC) participated in nutrition assessment.
- We note that 187 242 children have been screened for Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM), of which 306 were admitted and treated, while 241 children have been admitted for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) treatment during the lockdown from 31 March 2020 to 30 May 2020.
We therefore call upon the Government to:
- Respect and uphold section 77 of the Constitution which protects the right to food.
- Ensure the wide dissemination of Vitamin A to pregnant women and children.
- To aggressively implement and expand the cash transfer system to vulnerable households.
- To rapidly unblock the operational and administrative hurdles regarding subsidised mealie meal program .
- To expedite and expand the food distribution programs.
We remain concerned with the numerous shifts on policy positions which were articulated in statutory instruments without following due process of the law. We remain concerned that the Statutory Instruments on the resumption of operations require mandatory testing of employees upon opening and once every 14 days, yet the Minister of Health and Child Care verbally announced that testing can be conducted upon opening and once every 30 days.
We note that this is a weak governance practice which creates an environment that opens citizens to abuse to inconsistent enforcement and opportunities of rent seeking by enforcement officers;
- We therefore buttress our calls upon Government to revise and update all the applicable Statutory Instruments regarding Covid-19, in order to inform the citizens accordingly.
- We continue to encourage the Government to desist from the emerging state practice to govern by announcements and not by law.
We urge the Parliament of Zimbabwe to exercise its full mandate on the raft of Covid-19 measures to ensure coherence, compliance and consistently by the executive in this regard.
Mass community, testing and tracing
As the Nation has witnessed a sharp increase in community transmission cases, we raise the alarm on communities who continue to report unaccounted family deaths due to illness, and the instructions that funerals and burials should be conducted in the shortest period of time preferable a day after death. In the absence of mass community testing and public accounting for local transmission case-tracing we continue to raise queries on the appropriate reflection of the Covid-19 pandemic prevalence in Zimbabwe.
- We reinforce our call for an advanced test strategy which ensures community mass testing and also in the Public sector.
- We further urge Government to give a long outstanding report on the tracing of contacts of the all the local transmission cases thus far and to appropriately inform the applicable communities. This includes an update on the tracing status of the Beitbridge and Plumtree Prisons.
- Further, whilst we acknowledge the fact that the testing prioritisation has been directed to mandatory quarantine and isolation centres, we remain deeply distressed concerned at limited testing to communities broadly.
We note with some measure of relief that, the malaria outbreak in Zimbabwe is now on a downward trajectory after an outbreak that has recorded 341 211 case and 323 deaths. We commend the report by the Ministry of Health and Child Care reporting the decline in weekly cases and deaths of Malaria patients.
We commend the often under-reported efforts of village health care workers, who are predominantly women, working under very difficult conditions in rural and peri-urban communities, who have led in strengthening the accessibility of active testing and treatment of cases in communities.
We also celebrate the efforts of health care workers across the country who remain on the frontlines of malaria and Covid-19. This role is incredibly critical especially in the era of the limited access to health care centres due to Covid-19 operational and administrative constraints.
We take note of the support provided by Government to ensure mass net distribution in six districts of Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North, targeted community spraying of affected wards in Chiredzi, Mutasa and Mutoko, districts
We remain concerned however, with the impact of the malaria outbreak on infants. We note that 14.8% of the of the 5 339 malaria cases are of infants under the age of 5 years.
- We therefore call upon the Government to strengthen the early warning systems regarding malaria outbreaks in Zimbabwe, including ensuring malaria readiness whenever heat waves occur.
- We further reiterate, the long outstanding call, to ensure that the provision of affordable, rapid malaria pin-prick tests are widely available in community centres, pharmacies, health centres in distributions patterns similar to other African Global Fund recipient countries, to ensure that indeed, Zimbabwe can Kick Malaria Out.
Water and Sanitation
Remaining concerned with the dire water situation currently obtaining throughout the country, in areas such as Warren Park, Bulawayo and Mkoba Gweru;
Noting that water is a universal human right, guaranteed by the Supreme law of the land;
- We reinforce our calls upon the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, and all local authorities in their respective districts, to ensure adequate provision water, through the urgent escalation and expedition of the implementation of short and long-term strategies.
Relaxation of lockdown regulations on the tourism sector
We note the partial relaxation of the tourism sector’s lockdown regulations beginning 1 July 2020.
We however remain vigilant on the adoption of concrete measures to stem the rise of cases in the hospitality sector,
- We therefore call for strict adherence to safety protocols and public health guidelines in such spaces.
- We continue to warn that Zimbabwe is not out of the woods as yet. We are facing a steady increase in cases and have entered the winter seasons where respiratory infections are part of the risks element to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe