169 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 14 September 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 7 531. Active cases went up to 1 617, after 5 new cases were recorded. Noting the small number of tests conducted today at 349 PCR tests, the total number of recoveries now stands at 5 690 following 12 new recoveries which were recorded on 12 September 2020. The death toll still stands at 224, marking a 7 day period of no deaths recorded.
Noting the various efforts made by different arms of the state in preparing for resumption of socio-economic activities at their fullest,
- We call upon Government to lead in demonstrating good governance practices by publishing long awaited reports on the status of tracing teams and applicable testing reports.
- We call upon government to give an update on vulnerable populations and measures to protect these populations from context specific spikes of COVID-19.
- We call for clear and direct guidelines for enforcement officers operating outside of central business districts and particular direction for policing COVID-19 measures in rural, peri-urban communities and residential areas and communal spaces.
Critical Emerging Issues
COVID-19 response and the rights of the elderly
We continue to highlight deeply distressing reports regarding the intersection of COVID-19 on older persons in regard to COVID-19. Survey reports for Eastern and Northern, Zimbabwe indicate that within the survey population:
- 79% of older persons cannot afford protective materials such as face masks to prevent them from contracting COVID-19. This is further evidence to support calls for a state-driven program to provide free face masks (and other protective clothing) to indigent persons and communities.
- 46% of older persons experienced barriers to accessing COVID-19 related information.
- 82% of older persons are bearing a burden of care and support to others during the COVID-19 pandemic. This figure is deeply problematic as it reveals the extent to which unpaid, unrecognised and undervalued care work burden falls on Zimbabwean older persons and women which is not being ameliorated or eliminated.
- 68% of older persons over the age of 70 years have difficulty accessing medicines.
- 97% of older persons have had to reduce the quantity of food eaten while 58% have had to reduce the quality since the outbreak of COVID-19. Implications of hunger cannot be overstated.
Placing women’s rights at the core of the COVID-19 response
We continue to bring to the fore, safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights, during COVID-19. This is anchored on adequate representation of women in decision-making positions with the COVID-19 response structures. We emphasize that women’s solutions should be informed by women’s experiences and lived realities. We therefore highlight lack of adequate women’s representation in the health structures.
- A gender lens approach to all COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery efforts by Government, Parliament, decision-makers, local authorities and other stakeholders.
- Implementation of Constitutional provisions, particularly, sections 17, 56 and 80, which speak to gender balance, and equality in representation in all spheres of the Zimbabwe society.
- Inclusion of more women’s rights organisations in the taskforce teams.
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, that 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe