Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 159 – WCoZ Situation Report

159 days of Covid-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 4 September 2020, the total number of Covid-19 cases increased to 6 837 confirmed cases after 159 new cases tested positive, 158 are local transmission cases while 1 is an imported case. The National Recovery rate currently stands at 78%. Active cases are reported to have gone up to 1 286. A cumulative total of 5 345 recoveries have been recorded to date. The death toll stands at 206 deaths.

We call for a deeply considered approach that will straddle the necessary line between saving lives and communities whilst considering ensuring that socio-economic context of our nation in real terms. The Covid-19 pandemic must force us to face the brutal truth of the weaknesses in our governance and social protection mechanisms even as the restrictions continue to be relaxed.

We salute our healthcare personnel who continue to service and provide critical frontline services across the country in very difficult conditions. We also salute the women in communities are have been standing in the gap, quietly and systematically providing necessary support and care without acknowledgment, recognitions, and support. It is with this in mind that we highlight the need to ensure that the response to Covid-19 and indeed our country as a whole, is determined by a deeply integrated bottom-up approach, that facilitates for context, and deals with real-life dynamics on the ground as opposed to a top-down approach. 

Critical Emerging Issues

Outstanding reports on Covid-19 preparedness and response 

We continue to await official communication from Government regarding the testing progress of all enforcement officers. This is critical for assuring the Nation, that enforcement officers do not pose a danger to the persons and communities where they are enforcing the lockdown. 

Considering, the level of interaction the officers enjoy with citizens at roadblocks, physically inspecting and perusing licences and travel permits, there is need to minimize potential exposure to Covid-19. We reiterate that in the absence of a clear testing strategy within the public sector and the enforcement sector, there is a danger that enforcement officers themselves may become another hotspot for infection. 

  • We therefore urge Government and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, to give a long outstanding report on the state of preparedness of the law enforcement department in responding to Covid-19.
  • We further urge Government to update the Nation on the progress of testing of all members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, and all lockdown enforcement officers.

In addition, earlier in July, our tracking shows that health authorities in Bulawayo identified Khami Maximum Prison and Bulawayo Prison as hotspots for infection. We note that the Nation is yet to receive a publicized report on the protection of prison population. 

  • We await the long overdue update on the Covid-19 tracing status of the Khami Maximum Prison, Bulawayo Prison and Beitbridge Prison.
  • We continue to urge Government to urgently publicize and implement a comprehensive crisis plan to cater for the rights, needs and safety of detainees in the COVID-19 era. Paying particular attention to vulnerable detainees such as juveniles, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and those with underlying health conditions.

Outstanding issues 

Relaxation on adherence to public health guidelines

Our networks monitoring the Covid-19 situation in their communities have reported a continued general trend, throughout communities, businesses and public spaces, indicating a relaxation in observing social distancing, use of face masks and sanitizers. Concerned that failure to adequately observe social and physical distancing may erode all the gains recorded so far in the Covid-19 battle:

  • 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.

Access to sexual reproductive rights and sanitary wear

As marginalised sections of the population, in particular women and girls continue to face the brunt of the lockdown, challenges continue to mount on access to sexual reproductive health products, such as sanitary wear. This challenge has been attributed to budgetary and financial constraints presented by the lockdown measures, which have resulted in most households losing their income generating capacity. 

Noting that this status quo, will continue indefinitely, due to the fact that the lockdown period was declared indefinite:

  • We therefore recommend that Government rightly directs its attention to the challenges that women and girls are currently facing, and address those appropriately.
  • We call upon Government to develop and implement programs that will ensure that women and girls access free sanitary wear during the lockdown. 

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)

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