157 days of Covid-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 2 September 2020, the total number of Covid-19 cases increased to 6 638 confirmed cases after 79 new cases tested positive, 59 are local transmission cases while 20 are imported cases. With 939 PCR tested conducted today the positivity rate stands at 8.4%. Active cases were reported to have gone up to 1 182. A cumulative total of 5 250 recoveries have been recorded to date. We extend our condolences to the families of 3 persons who died today we hope they find comfort and peace. The death toll stands at 206 deaths.
We note the announcement by the Government that the tourism sector can resume operations after a hard hitting but necessary five month closure.
We note that critical services within the sector such as airport and boating services have been included in the resumption for the tourism sector in particular the resumption of local flights.
We urge the sector and the public to remain vigilant and adhere to strict guidelines regarding sanitisation, social distancing and wearing of masks to ensure the resumption of the sector addresses critical livelihood needs whilst balancing the need to contain the balance.
Critical Emerging Issues
Re-opening of schools for examination writing classes
We note the announcement by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, that pupils sitting final exams are returning to school from 14 September 2020, with those sitting for ZIMSEC commencing lessons on 28 September 2020. While we are aware, as reported that during the June-July exams, no Covid-19 transmissions were recorded amongst pupils, we reiterate the need to ensure safety of students, teachers and other ancillary staff.
- We therefore emphasize putting in place measures to minimize risk of exposure to Covid-19. This must include employing the same strategy as one recently adopted by Parliament and ensuring mandatory testing of all teaching personnel.
Water and sanitation
The dire situation on water shortages has continued to force women to access the water from unsafe sources, exposing them to untold health hazards, including Covid-19. Our networks throughout the country, especially in Bulawayo have reported lack of sustainable means to access water, due to rationing schemes by Council. While in April, the High Court of Zimbabwe made a ruling on ensuring access to water by residents, there has been little compliance with the judgement. While initiatives such as bowser water delivery only provide temporary relief, such measures are not the panacea to the problem as they are unsustainable in the long run.
- It is recommended that the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, and all local authorities in their respective districts, ensure adequate provision water, through the implementation of short and long-term strategies.
- We further urge the critical need for the rapid escalation of medium- and long-term water solutions as part of the Covid-19 response actions.
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. It is important for the Ministry of Health and Childcare to issue out information and data on persons currently being held in quarantine centres, particularly disaggregated by gender and age. Furthermore, in order to ensure security and safeguarding of women and children, who are the most vulnerable sections of the population, we reinforce our submission on the need for critical measures to be established and implemented.
- It is therefore important for Government to report on progress regarding accelerated safeguarding frameworks within the centres, such as 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 sexual violence within the centres and the help available.
- It is also recommended that Government enhances the provision of Access to services, including adequate sexual and reproductive health services, to both men and women without stigma.
Non adherence to lockdown restrictions and containment measures
We continue to note a general trend, throughout communities, businesses and public spaces, indicating a relaxation in observing social distancing, use of face masks and sanitizers.
Further noting that the same trends have been observed within the public transport system;
Gravely concerned with the continuing spike of Covid-19 cases and concerned that failure to adequately observe social and physical distancing may erode all the gains recorded so far in the Covid-19 battle,
- We recommend a strict enforcement of the lockdown.
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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)