Zimbabwe COVID-19 Lockdown Monitoring Report 10 July 2020 – Day 103

Introduction
Friday 10 July 2020 marked day 103 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020.   The Ministry of Health and Child Care reported an increase in the number of confirmed cases to nine hundred and forty-two (942). The number of cumulative tests done stood at eighty-seven thousand two hundred and sixty-four (87 264). Of these, eighty-six thousand three hundred and twenty-two (86 322) were negative. The number of recoveries increased to three hundred and twenty (320) while the death toll increased to thirteen (13). 
 
Methodology
Information contained in this report is derived from the following Forum Members:

  • Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP)
  • Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
  • Counselling Services Unit (CSU)
  • Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR)
  • Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)

General Updates
President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that the government will review the national lockdown restrictions. President Mnangagwa hinted that the government could scale up preventive and containment measures. Addressing an Ordinary Session of the ZANU-PF Politburo at the party headquarters in Harare, President Mnangagwa, indicated that another review of the COVID-19 lockdown measures currently at Level 2 would be done due to the spike in the number of positive cases.

ZANU-PF acting spokesperson Mr Patrick Chinamasa threatened to unleash ZANU PF  supporters to counter the national anti-government protests planned for July 31. Addressing the media soon after a politburo meeting at the ZANU PF headquarters, Mr Chinamasa dared MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to lead the protests himself and be taught a lesson. This comes after opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader and coordinator of the planned July 31 mass demonstrations, Jacob Ngarivhume vowed the anti-government protest will proceed with or without police approval. Ngarivhume added that he would be sending notifications to district police stations early next week to inform them of the planned action. He said he was currently mobilising support from other political parties, civil society organisations and business organisations.

Reports indicate that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has been forced to close its Bulawayo and Chiredzi offices after it emerged the 54-year-old Bulawayo man who died of COVID-19 on Sunday had visited the offices. Thabani Sibanda, who became the country’s ninth COVID-19-related death, worked at the ZIMRA offices in Bulawayo and visited the company’s Chiredzi offices a week before his death. He was admitted at the PSMI Hospital in Hillside, Bulawayo on Sunday, July 5, 2020, soon after arriving from Chiredzi and died a few hours later.

Authorities at Forbes Border Post in Mutare have highlighted the need to test truck drivers passing through the port of entry for better management of any potential COVID-19 cases, as most of them were spending up to three days in the city while awaiting customs clearance. Forbes Border Post receives a large volume of traffic particularly commercial trucks. The border post is only open to cargo trucks and returning citizens due to COVID-19 regulations, but the number of trucks that go through the port has remained high.

The Bulawayo High Court dismissed an application by more than 600 informal vendors in Bulawayo who were challenging Bulawayo City Council (BCC)’s decision to close their vending sites at 5th Avenue market place in the city centre. The council, as part of measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, in April relocated all vendors operating vending stalls in the area and permanently closed the popular weekend Khothama Market to bring order in the city beyond the lockdown period. Some defiant vendors who had returned to their former vending sites along 5th Avenue were on Monday raided by municipal police.

According to the National Police Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, thirteen (13) more returnees escaped from quarantine centres on 9 July bringing the national total number of people who have escaped from quarantine centres to 222. Of the escapees, eight (8) people escaped from Esikhoveni Training Centre in Matabeleland South while five (5) escaped from Mushagashe Training Centre in Masvingo. According to Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, one of the people who had escaped from Esikhoveni Training Centre later surrendered themselves to authorities. Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary on the ministry of Information and Publicity Mr Nick Mangwana published the names of the thirteen (13) returnees who escaped this week.

At the Bulawayo Prison, four (4) inmates and one prison officer tested positive for COVID-19 prompting authorities to conduct mass testing for inmates and prison officer at the prison as well as disinfecting the complex. The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) has, therefore, banned visits with immediate effect countrywide.

THE phased re-opening of schools is scheduled to begin on 28 July starting with classes sitting for their Grade 7, Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations in November. The government announced that school authorities are expected to put in place the following:

  • Face Masks; Sanitisers;
  • Infrared thermometers;
  • Liquid soaps;
  • Disinfectants;
  • Gloves;
  • Hand washing stations within the school premises;
  • Hand washing buckets for every class;
  • Gowns for school health coordinators;
  • Holding bays for unwell persons;
  • Information education communication materials;
  • Appointment of trained school health co-ordinators before re-opening;
  • Schools to conduct COVID-19 awareness programmes for everyone in the school about prevention;
  • Schools to schedule regular cleaning of the school environment daily, including toilets, with water and soap/disinfectant/detergent;
  • Toilets for both staff and learners to be cleaned and disinfected three times a day — at break time, during lunch, and at the end of the day;
  • Every classroom should have a bin for waste disposal and such waste should be disposed of by burning or burying, daily;
  • Disinfecting buildings, grounds and frequently touched surfaces;
  • Each school should have sanitisers at every entry point where learners, teachers, staff and stakeholders are sanitised;
  • Wearing clean face masks is compulsory to all learners and school staff;
  • All visitors to schools should only be entertained if they are wearing face masks;
  • Schools to limit visitors to only essential visits;
  • Social/physical distancing at school and during classes; and
  • Classes should not accommodate more than 35 pupils.

Summary of violations
The table below summarises human rights violations documented by the Forum Secretariat and Forum Members from 30 March to 10 July 2020.

Nature of ViolationNumber of VictimsLocation
Assault278Harare, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Zaka, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Nembudziya, Chiredzi, Marondera, Mutoko, Chivi, Bikita, Zvishavane, Mvurwi, Mutare, Marondera, Beitbridge, Domboshava, Wengezi
Attack on Journalists21Mutare, Gweru, Chinhoyi, Harare, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Beitbridge
Arrests496Masvingo, Gokwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Hwange, Harare, Magunje, Lupane, Norton, Bikita, Mutasa, Chitungwiza, Nkayi, Makoni, Chipinge, Beitbridge, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mwenezi, Guruve, Hwange, Murwi, Kwekwe, Chinhoyi
Abductions3Harare
Gunshots2Chitungwiza, Bulawayo

Conclusion
The Forum is concerned about the growing numbers of deaths and confirmed COVID-19 cases particularly regarding local transmissions. This increase comes as the government is planning to reopen schools on 28 July. Further, the planned 31 July protests are likely to fuel the spread of COVID-19.  The Forum therefore implores all citizens to be even more cautious and adhere to COVID-19 safety measures to curb the spread of COVID

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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