176 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 20 September 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 7 683. Active cases went up to 1 534, following the record of 11 new cases and 10 recoveries. The total number of recoveries stands at 5 924. The death toll now stands at 225.
We highlight the concern raised by the WHO that despite the 14% drop in COVID-19 cases across Africa, the picture of pandemic is difficult to ascertain with certainty due to the inconsistencies in testing strategies on the Continent, hence African countries should remain vigilant.
It is against this background we are concerned about the resumption of movement across the North-South trade corridor where Zimbabwe is part of the land-linked trade route. These countries are continuing to see rises in cases amidst reports that indicate a relaxation of adherence to mask-wearing, social distancing and frequent sanitization in countries across the corridor. We remain concerned at imported cases and also the spread of infections domestically.
We commend the resumption of operations for the Central Registry, particularly the issuing of birth certificates. We highlight the plight of mothers who recently gave birth during the lockdown, and may still continue to face challenges in accessing the Central Registry despite its resumption of operations.
We, therefore, recommend to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, setting up of mobile Registry clinics in communities to ensure easy access to documentation such as birth certificates.
- We urge the retro-fitting of process and public spaces of the central registry to ensure that the traditional congestion of these spaces to do not turn the re-opening of offices into super spreader events.
- We continue to call for devolved issuance of birth certificates at community clinics and health centres on the day of birth and not to place new mothers under the burden of going to central government offices.
Critical Emerging Issues
Hunger and delay in implementing social protection measures
We highlight the World Food Program, (WFP) report that indicates that 75% of Zimbabwe Urban Workers have been rendered jobless by the COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions.
We highlight the scourge of exacerbated social vulnerabilities related to such a grave circumstance and the need for widespread aggressive rebuilding agenda to ensure that lives and saved in the pursuit of non-consultative economic restructuring that has a high risk to create jobless, rootless growth.
Whilst we continue to note that Government is yet to avail funds for the COVID-19 relief pay-out, we continue to remain dismayed by the lack urgency by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to provide real tangible social safety nets. This has raised a general sense of discontent and disgruntlement by the communities over the delays in the implementation of social protection measures by Government.
- We query policy measures put in place by Government to ensure that citizens access basic commodities in the time of COVID-19.
- We further call the State to order, particularly on its duty to ensure that citizens enjoy the progressive realisation of their fundamental right to food and water.
- We therefore call upon the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to expedite the implementation of social protection programs to alleviate economic shocks upon vulnerable households.
- We recommend an increase in the COVID-19 relief pay-outs, and an expediated implementation of social protection programs for all vulnerable households.
Relaxation on adherence to public health guidelines
In the wake of gradual easing of the lockdown measures, our monitoring of the COVID-19 situation reveal 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe