108 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that, as at 15 July 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 1 089 after 25 new cases tested positive, 22 of which are local transmissions.
Critical Emerging Issues
Lack of information
We remain concerned by failure to have access to reports of the formal industry and commerce sector reports of tests of COVID-19 cases. 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 and the testing that private companies have been undertaking.
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 and as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise, we recognise the need for adequate information regarding the cases and deaths recorded by the Ministry. We emphasize that such data will inform the appropriate responses and actions to be taken by various stakeholders. We urge the Ministry of Health and Child-Care to:
- provide adequate data on COVID-19 statistics, which data must be gender and age disaggregated.
- increase local testing.
- Announce community tracing strategies and the expectations of specific communities to tracing teams.
Increase in GBV cases
Our networks report an increase in GBV cases, in their communities, particularly in Mutasa, Chivi and Bulawayo. Our member, Musasa has reported that it recorded a total of 2 768 GBV cases between 30 March and 13 June 2020.
While Government recognized access to GBV services, as essential, our networks report that survivors still face challenges in accessing the service, due to restrictions in movement.
Our networks have further highlighted that the full re-operationalization of GBV facilities continues to face challenges regards availability of basic PPE and COVID-19 supplies;
- We therefore urge prioritisation of resourcing the GBV services and safe shelters.
- We further urge gender integration in the planning and implementation of the COVID-19 preparedness and response measures.
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 that was issues on Day 82 of the lockdown on the 19th of June, 27 Days ago;
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.
The readiness of the health care sector to address the rapid increase in local transmission cases is linked to potential rises in potential hospitalisations, it is critical that the country is made aware for the readiness of our institutions to this scenario.
Non-adherence to lockdown restrictions and containment measures
We continue to note a general trend, throughout communities, businesses and public spaces, indicating a relaxation in observing social distancing, use of face masks and sanitizers.
Gravely concerned with the continuing spike of COVID-19 cases and concerned that failure to adequately observe social and physical distancing may erode all the gains recorded so far in the COVID-19 battle
- We therefore commend Government on the resolution to tighten lockdown measures.
- We emphasize that tightening of lockdown should not and cannot be implemented by restricting citizens’ movement only, but by ensuring compliance by the public transport sector, strict adherence to sanitization and disinfection of public spaces by businesses.
- We remind the general populace on the need to fortify their efforts in maintaining both social and physical distancing, in every environment which may include work, public transport or supermarkets.
Provision of adequate PPE for health workers
We continue to raise alarm over the growing statistics on health workers testing positive to COVID-19, particularly amidst 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 note with concern that health staffers in some of the country’s largest public hospital (Parirenyatwa, Mpilo and UBH Hospitals) have tested positive.
We remain alarmed at the fact that over 40 nurses at the Mpilo and UBH hospitals have tested positive for COVID-19 and that approximately 300 health personnel are placed on mandatory self-isolation.
- 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.
Persons living and working on the streets
We note the update of the COVID-19 taskforce pertaining to vulnerable children and adults living and working on the streets that have been placed in halfway homes. However we remain concerned by the limited report in this regard.
- We call for a full public report on the status of the persons in living and working on the streets their housing and their reunifications processes and measures to ensure that there are sufficiently able to access safeguarding mechanisms against COVID-19.
We note the process of reunifications of vulnerable persons with their families. We remain concerned however the low numbers (29) reported regarding persons receiving direct support of only 29 adults in Harare Province, 13 Adults in Midlands Province and 6 children in Manicaland Province. We highlight that wherein Zimbabwe’s population of homeless persons is at 848 per every 10 000 persons the above numbers are clearly inadequately addressed the in the update.
- We call upon a fuller intervention to the multitudes of vulnerable persons which have received support since the inception of the lockdown
- We call for the announcement of mechanisms to protect those living and working on the streets against the spread of the virus.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe