154 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 30 August 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 6 412 confirmed cases after 6 new cases tested positive, all are local transmission cases. With 602 tests done today the positivity rate was at 1%. We hope that the positivity rate goes downwards whilst testing is expanded to ensure a strong and accurate picture of the pandemic is presented. Active cases are reported to have gone up to 1 155. A cumulative total of 5 061 recoveries have been recorded to date. We are glad to note that in the past 24 hours, no death has been reported. The death toll therefore remains at 196.
The majority of reports received today from our grassroots champions and networks, indicate that a huge number of congregants physically attended to their respective churches of worship. The reports continue to reveal that although congregants are adhering to the mandatory requirement for face masks, there is a general lack of compliance with safety protocols such as physical distancing and use of sanitizers. We therefore urge church leaders to safeguard their congregants by ensuring strict compliance with the containment laws and public health guidelines.
Critical Emerging Issues
Protecting and supporting adolescent girls
Our networks in different grassroots networks continue to raise distress over the increasing rate of violence against women and girls, and the need to protect adolescent girls. Noting the high probability of adolescent girls’ exposure to sexual exploitation, and child marriages during the COVID-19 pandemic. In mitigating these risks, and developing early warning systems, we recommend the following:
Government agencies, Ministry of Health and Child Care, the Zimbabwe Republic Police Victim Friendly Unit (VFU), Social Welfare Department, and civil society organisations to prioritise awareness raising and support services on protecting adolescent girls.
Government to create and facilitate stronger solid community base for the welfare and protection of children, particularly adolescent girls, during emergency situations and recovery planning.
Stigma and discrimination
Reports from our networks reveal an increase in social stigma and discriminatory behaviours against people diagnosed with COVID-19 and those perceived to have been in contact with the virus, including health care personnel. We note that such stigma may undermine social cohesion and drive people to hide the illness in order to avoid discrimination. This may result in the disease likely spreading as people fail to seek immediate medical attention.
We therefore recommend that stakeholders, community leaders and Government, intensify efforts in meaningfully engaging at the community level, with citizens, including people who have recovered from COVID-19, with their consent, to lead in increasing awareness and reducing stigma and discrimination.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)