138 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe and it is clear the country is now in the processes of undergoing a steady rise of the curve. It remains distressing that the actions to stem of the spread of COVID-19 has clearly not been successful. The Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that, as at 14 August 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 5072 confirmed cases passing the 5000 case mark after 82 new cases tested positive. All new 82 cases are local transmission cases. The death toll remains at 128 and marks a 24 hour period (the second of such since the curve began in earnests) wherein no deaths were reported. It is critical that Zimbabwe begin to seriously address what next as the surge grows and the implications of a full blown curve that we seem to be heading towards. Active cases are up to 2946 today and with 71 new recoveries noted.
We remain concerned that citizens seeking health care for non-COVID-19 cases continue to report delayed attendance and failure to access medical attention due to the poor screening procedures and the inability to receive attention without prior COVID-19 screening certification. This is placing incredible strain and anxiety on person who require medical attention as they face undue pressure at screening points or access points as they are often not able to produce COVID-19 testing certificate as the majority citizens still cannot afford the tests going for USD$65.
We remain distressed at frontline healthcare workers who continue to operate with grossly inadequate PPE’s which truly places their lives and the lives of their family and communities at real tangible risk yet they are the first response that has the capacity to hold the pandemic at bay for Zimbabwe, their prioritisation cannot be raised often enough.
We further note with growing concern that the spread of the pandemic to other government ministries and department as evidenced by reports of positive cases in the Government Complexes in Mutare, Bulawayo and Harare.
We reiterate our call for government to rapidly begin the process of retrofitting and altering the work spaces of critical and essential government agencies and spaces to ensure reduction of incidences of transmission in key public spaces.
Critical Emerging Issues
Beerhalls and drinking spots in communities
Reports from our networks today reveal widespread operations and sprouting of illegal pubs, bars and drinking spots in both rural and urban communities, selling alcohol and serving patrons well into the night and operating beyond the prescribed COVID-19 regulations. From our monitoring and observations this trend is prominent on Fridays and throughout weekends. Reports from our networks implicate the communities in Harare suburbs, Kwekwe, Plumtree, Bulawayo and Gweru. Further problematizing such reports are cases that include the practice of enforcement officers frequenting the same spots or passing though without taking any enforcement action.
- 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.
- We urge communities, and citizens to be responsible in safeguarding their health by complying with public health guidelines.
Community transmission: workplaces and public spots
COVID-19 cases continue to increase, our monitoring of trends and patterns, indicate that public spots and workplaces may have become hotspots for community transmission. Long queues at banking halls has also become a cause for concern, as we have observed lack of physical distancing.
- We urge citizens to observe physical distancing as they meet and interact in public places such as banking halls.
Commending Government in taking action to fumigate the Government Complex in Mutare and undertaking to consistently do so every fortnight.
- We urge that the practice be religiously adhered to, and extended to other public offices as well, even where COVID-19 have not been recorded.
Our networks in Gwanda have raised concern over ZUPCO’s non-adherence to public health guidelines, particularly on overcrowding of passengers.
- 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.
Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and Maternity
We note the mounting woes within the health sector, particularly on access to sexual and reproductive health rights, and maternity services. Reports from our networks reveal challenges in accessing contraceptives, which has resulted in a spike of unwanted pregnancies posing inherent risks leading to maternal and infant mortality.
- We therefore recommend the availability of sexual reproductive products such as free family planning pills and condoms.
We further recommend implementation of measures to support women and ensure that they access pre and post-natal care, and reproductive health care services without any impediments due to COVID-19.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe