131 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that, as at 6 August 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 4 395 confirmed cases after 56 cases tested positive, 54 of these are local transmissions.
Noting that several government departments and agencies are open to the transacting public are reporting changes in protocols as a result of increased cases of COVID-19 among both staff and the public.
We note that the new protocols regarding of the transacting public as they engage with service providers rely heavily on the public presenting COVID-19 negative tests results to the satisfaction of the agencies in question. We make specific reference to the tax authority that has prescribed COVID-19 negative results as necessary to be produced by any persons seeking to access their services including at ports and distribution centres.
This is a deeply problematic policy and practice to undertake in accessing public spaces and agencies;
- We call upon Government as employer to ensure that places of work are urgently retrofitted to balance the need to maintain safety and ensure services are provided.
- We call upon the Ministry of Health and Child Care to strengthening its advisory capacities and strengthen real time workable solution to essential services providers during this time.
Critical Emerging Issues
Sprouting Nightspots and Drinking Spots in communities
Reports from our networks continue to indicate deeply widespread practise of the pubs, bars and drinking spots both legal and illegal selling in rural and urban communities who are selling alcohol and serving patrons well into the night and operating beyond the prescribed COVID-19 regulations. This trend is usually observed during weekends.
Reports from our networks implicate the communities in Kwekwe, Warren Park, and Ushewokunze,
Further problematizing such reports are cases that include the practice of enforcement officers frequenting the same spots or passing though without taking any actions;
- We remind enforcement services that public policing includes community policing, which is centred on the principles of ensuring communities are able to respect the regulations and securing community cooperation.
- We reiterate that the above principle is fundamental to enforcement of COVID-19 regulations and particularly to the ultimate goal of slowing the spread of the disease.
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 reporting 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.
Water and sanitation
Communities continue to face challenges in accessing adequate water and sanitation. We note that this global pandemic requires increased levels of hygiene and in particular, clean and safer portable water. We highlight the plight of women in Gweru, Bulawayo and other surrounding areas who have been placed under phenomenal strain, as they seek to assess water through other alternative means.
- We therefore urge the critical need for the rapid escalation of medium- and long-term water solutions as part of the COVID-19 response actions.
- We therefore reiterate our demand for a comprehensive national approach and plan to address the chronic and persistent shortages of water in Zimbabwe’s communities.
- We call upon an increased expedition of operational and administrative responsiveness to communities in crisis not only by the constrained Local Authorities but by central government and its applicable national institutions to ensure that citizens are able to access water.
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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe