130 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that, as at 5 August 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 4 339 confirmed cases after 118 cases tested positive, 117 of these are local transmissions.
Deeply distressed at reports that Senior Resident Medical Officers (SRMOS) at Parirenyatwa Hospital – the largest hospital in Zimbabwe- providing Obstetrics and Gynaecology have indicated their inability to continue offering services following tests that indicated that the majority of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists operating in the maternity wards have contracted COVID-19 after providing services with limited to no PPEs.
This is an alarming situation which once again highlights the critical issue of provisioning the health care workers a critical matter of urgency for the incredibly fragile health sector which is under phenomenal levels of strain which create and sustain disproportionate negative impacts on women and girls rights.
- We therefore continue to call for the provisioning of the PPE’s to healthcare workers
- We continue to call for the prioritisation of maternal health care services and sexual reproductive services during the pandemic.
Further, concerned of reports from networks reporting delays between testing of COVID-19 and receiving of results from periods as high as 14 days between test day and result date in some instances.
These delays indicate significant operational and administratively problems in the pipeline for citizens getting tested across the country we call upon the expeditious resolution of the testing delays.
- WE call for the urgent resourcing and decentralisation of the of the national testing capacities.
- We call for the adoption of modern and rapid ICT technologies to notify and engage persons undertaking tests.
Critical Emerging Issues
Nurses and student nurses at the risk of exposure
The situation report published by the Ministry of Health and Child-Care on 4th August 2020, reveal that nurses and student nurses constitute the highest statistics of health workers infected with COVID-19 as at 29 July 2020. According to the report, 35.8% of the COVID-19 infections amongst health workers, was recorded amongst nurses, while 15% was recorded amongst student nurses. We believe that such alarming statistics may be attributed to lack of access to PPE and proper training on handling COVID-19 cases.
- 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.
Mass Community, Testing and Tracing
Distressed by the growing statistics on community transmission, showing that as at 4 August 2020, of the 4 221 cumulative cases, 3 128 of these are local transmissions, we recognize the urgent need to intensify community mass testing and contact tracing. 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.
- 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.
Non adherence to lockdown measures in residential areas
It is distressing to note, reports from our networks, indicating a relaxation in observing social distancing, particularly in the rural areas and high-density residential areas, particularly in Kwekwe, Mberengwa and Mvuma areas. Reports also indicate, that regardless of the curfew, certain community night spots continue to operate illegally, in connivance with enforcement officers.
Concerned that failure to adequately observe lockdown measures together with the public health guidelines, will render the lockdown an exercise in futility,
- 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.
- We further recommend strict enforcement of the lockdown measures, not only in the Central Business Districts, but in residential areas as well.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe