106 days of Covid-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that, as at 12 July 2020, the total number of Covid-19 cases had increased to 985 after 3 new cases had tested positive. Sadly, the death toll now stands at 18.
Noting the high number of Covid-19 deaths detected during post mortems, we intensify our calls for increased mass community testing in Zimbabwe.
We are further concerned with reports from our networks where community funerals are being held, without strict compliance to public health guidelines such as social and physical distancing. In the past 48 hours, our networks reported on 3 funerals in Mutasa ward 11, Murehwa ward 11 and Chinhoyi, where there has been little compliance with social distancing. It is thus worrying that community gatherings such as funerals may be fast turning into hotspots for local transmission.
- We call for increased testing in Zimbabwe.
- We call for the increased access to tests in community testing to support a community tracing agenda.
Commending efforts by enforcing agents, to strictly enforce the mandatory use of masks and physical distancing in Norton and Bindura today, as reported by our networks.
We remain concerned about the policy coherence an prioritisation regarding responding to the health crisis and we raise questions on the implications of undertaking a health sector restructuring exercise in the midst of the global pandemic and as local cases are going up.
Critical Emerging Issues
Provision of adequate PPE for health workers
Distressed with growing reports of PPE shortages and exposure of health personnel to the virus, we reiterate the urgent need to support and safeguard the well-being of health workers.
We remain concerned and vigilant on cases of health sector workers who are testing positive for Covid-19 and its implications on critical health teams across the country.
- We therefore continue to make clarion calls upon Government to fulfil the constitutionally protected right to health for health workers by ensuring that they are not negligently exposed to Covid-19.
- We reiterate our recommendations on preventative measures such as training of health workers on handling Covid-19 patients.
Use of public transport
Reports from our networks reveal the possibility of a terrifying time-bomb in the form of ZUPCO. There is concern over 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 as we experience the spike of Covid-19 cases at unprecedented levels. Such slackening will 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 operators.
Gravely concerned with the increases in prices of basic commodities. Our networks have reported that 2 kg of sugar has been retailing averagely at ZWL $160, 2 Litres cooking oil at ZWL $285, and 10kg mealie meal at ZWL $480.
We are further dismayed by poor enforcement of the price moratorium which was announced by Government in April. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce, this week, conceded that the price moratorium had failed to materialise, attributing the failure to the volatile exchange rate.
- 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 therefore query policy measures put in place by Government to ensure that citizens access basic commodities at affordable prices during Covid-19.
Women in quarantine and isolation centres
We continue to reflect on the status of quarantine and isolation centres in addressing gender-specific issues such as sexual abuse, violence and hygiene. In order to ensure security and safeguarding of women and children, who are the most vulnerable sections of the population, there are critical measures that need to be established and implemented. This calls for accelerated safeguarding frameworks within the centres through the integration of SGBV into the quarantine centres’ management, including training of staff on how to properly service different genders. We further recommend establishment of protection guidelines and dissemination of information in the 16 national languages, on sexual violence within the centres and the help available. It is also recommended that Government enhances the provision of:
- Access to applicable and supportive ameliorative services for women, the elderly, children, and persons living with disabilities in quarantine.
- Access to services, including adequate sexual and reproductive health services, to both men and women without stigma.
- Appropriate and adequate provision of water and sanitization.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe