168 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 12 September 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 7 508. Active cases went up to 1 609, after 29 new cases were recorded. The total number of recoveries now stand at 5 675 following 15 new recoveries which were recorded on 12 September 2020. The death toll still stands at 224.
Noting with concern the general belief that the COVID-19 transmission rate is improving in the country, we urge against complacency and relaxation amongst members of the public, stakeholders and Government. We call for increased testing and the ramping up of accessing to testing kits and consumables for Zimbabwe. In addition, we call for expanded and devolved testing regimens to be deployed across the country. These measures are critical as the country continues to rapidly ease restrictive measures and the need to keep abreast of the pandemic in the country continues to grow.
Zimbabwe is facing the coming of the dry season as the weather continues to warm up into the dry summer. The ability of communities to access water is a key enabler in addressing the increased hygiene and sanitation levels required for prevention and response to COVID-19 measures remain critical. It is therefore with distress that we highlight that Manicaland province on the eastern side of country through the District Development Fund (DDF) reports 152 water points in the province have completely dried up. 143 water points are almost dry due to a continuously receding water table on the back of a poor rainfall season last year.
We highlight the story of Buhera district whose situation is most dire as 58 water points out of 1 436 boreholes and deep wells have completely dried up with 88 now yielding less water.
- We continue to call for the expedition of coordinated, comprehensive medium and long term strategies to address the chronic water crisis faced by Zimbabwean communities.
- We continue to call for the prioritisation of the water and sanitation as a key enabler to the social and economic national priorities.
Critical Emerging Issues
Re-opening of schools and COVID-19 preventative measures
As the schools are expected to commence lessons tomorrow for pupils sitting for Cambridge exams, our networks raise concern over COVID-19 infection prevention and control measures in place to ensure the safety of pupils and teachers. While we are aware, as reported that during the June-July exams, no COVID-19 transmissions were recorded amongst pupils, we highlight the change in circumstances regarding community transmission cases. Lately, we have experienced spikes in local transmission cases, and thus underscoring the critical need to ensure the safety of pupils, teachers and other ancillary staff.
- We therefore emphasize the need for Ministry of Education to publicly advise on infection prevention and control in place to safeguard and provide required medical support for pupils, teachers and other ancillary staff in the event of being exposed to COVID-19 infection. This must include employing the same strategy as that adopted by the Parliament of Zimbabwe and ensuring mandatory testing of all teaching personnel.
Reopening of bottle-stores and liquor selling joints
As bottle stores are now allowed to sell liquor, we continue to note with concern the high rate of impunity to the marked increase of non-adherence to lockdown measures and public health guidelines in respect of beerhalls and drinking spots, in both rural and urban communities, continue to operate well into the night and beyond the prescribed times.
- We therefore urge a stricter enforcement and observance of the COVID-19 public health guidelines and Regulations in bottle stores and other liquor selling joints.
Protection of prisons population
We reiterate that our tracking shows that earlier in July, health authorities in Bulawayo identified Khami Maximum Prison and Bulawayo Prison as hotspots for infection. We are concerned 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)