124 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that, as at 30 July 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 3 092 after 213 cases tested positive, of which 205 are local transmissions. The death toll has risen to 53. To date, 924 recoveries have been recorded.
We note with concern the distressing instances of persons utilising public transport who were removed from ZUPCO, the sole authorised public transport provider and instantly transferred into police custody in a congested truck were neither social distancing nor sanitisation were being effected. We raise concern over actions by enforcement agents, which may further expose citizens to COVID-19 infection.
Critical emerging issues
Movement restrictions and Policy inconsistencies
Today from our networks, we noted reports of exempted persons going to work, who fall under the duly indicated and protected class of essential services, being turned away and or harassed by armed forces. Meanwhile, there was no indication by Government that the existing COVID-19 regulations had been suspended and that all persons including those in exempted categories were not to attempt to report for duty today. The conflicting messages given to the public expose contradiction in law and policy that do not indicate State interventions designed to address the pandemic.
Furthermore, while the spread of the COVID-19 persistently indicates rapid increase, we remain alarmed at the silence by the leadership, wherein the administrative, operational and policy frameworks to address the deepening crisis are not tangible and are not being articulated to the very same public that is facing unprecedented life and death risks.
Access to health care services and PPE
We note the growing reports of various communities and classes of persons finding themselves dealing with illness and deaths related to COVID-19, without access to health care services or PPE.
Deeply distressed for our communities who continue to contract COVID-19 without practical support in the public health care sector whose strain is being bourne out in the increasing cases of COVID-19 positive health-care professionals, who in many instances, simply cannot continue to provide a service without the provision of PPEs.
- We therefore call upon the Government to demonstrate its commitment to equitable access to health sector services and equitable access to PPEs for all classes of persons, in Zimbabwe with due regard to the multitude of Constitutional provisions which remain extant.
Update on state of preparedness
We remain alarmed at the failure to address the readiness of the health care centres in particular the issues pertaining to strengthening the capacity of the health care centres to handle the inevitable increased cases of patients requiring hospitalisation and high-level care support. Above and beyond the extensive leadership crisis in the public health sector the Zimbabwean public continues to be unaware of the;
- number of hospital beds are actually available in the country.
- number of hospital beds ready to take care of the patients in need of high-quality care including ventilation support.
- health care centres, across the 10 provinces have the capacity to actually take in patients.
- ratio of PPEs to health care personnel currently obtaining.
- actual number of health care workers who can be adequately covered by PPEs whilst on duty.
- level of medical stocks in the country against the increasing disease burden.
- point of resolution of the wide spread industrial action across the sector.
In the absence of such public information, the public therefore is forced to makes assessment of state capacity and state intention based on their individual and collective experiences and knowledge through which the Government losses substantive space to engage progressively in the public policy domain.
- We therefore urge Government to constantly engage and update the Nation on progress being realised regards state of readiness to respond to COVID-19.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe