175 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 19 September 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 7 672. Active cases went down to 1 533, following the recording of 25 new cases and 31 recoveries. The total number of recoveries stands at 5 914. The death toll now stands at 225.
We note that this represents 6 consecutive days without a death recorded in Zimbabwe and we give credit to frontline health care workers who continue to provide support under very difficult circumstances. We urge government to seek to retain this trend with regards to the formal opening of inter-provincial travel and international travel.
Critical emerging issues
Relaxation on adherence to public health guidelines
In the wake of gradual easing of the lockdown measures, our monitoring of the COVID-19 situation reveals a continuing 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.
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. 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 in 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 on Zimbabwean older persons and women which is not being ameliorated or eliminated.
- 68% of older persons over the age of 70years have difficulty accessing medicines.
- 97% of 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.
We continue to call for urgent direct, holistic, devolved and tangible social protection measures to vulnerable groups.
Placing women’s rights at the core of 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 within 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 and call for:
- 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)