186 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 1 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 7 850 after 12 new cases were reported. Active cases went down to 1 310. Nine new recoveries were recorded on 1 October 2020. The total number of recoveries stands at 6 312. The death toll rose to 228 after one death was recorded.
We continue to urge the expansion of testing in Zimbabwe. We acknowledge the incredible strain on the national resources pertaining to COVID-19 responsiveness as a whole and commendably note the 80% national recovery rate of the country. However, we raise alarm on the long-term effects of COVID-19 on persons who have tested positive including persons who have had mild symptoms of the infection.
We note with concern that the majority of those testing positive for COVID-19 have had either no symptoms or mild symptoms. However, this group of persons remains at risk of suffering the long-term effects of fighting a COVID-19 infection. Therefore there is dire need to support, track and trace their journey and recovery to better enable them to take charge of their own health and for the national health sector to monitor the long-term impact of the novel coronavirus on the health of Zimbabweans.
It is critical therefore that despite the low positivity rate thus far and despite the fact that the majority of persons testing positive have no symptoms or mild symptoms, testing must not be de-escalated. In fact, in light of the rapid relaxation of measures in the practical sense in Zimbabwe, vigilance is necessary to ensure that those who have combated COVID-19 are not short-changed in the management of their wellness. The health sector should lead in ensuring that complacency is not bred by communities who believe that COVID-19 has a minimal mortality rate in Zimbabwe or has no long term adverse impact on health.
We note with concern the on-going crisis in the education sector. In particular, we highlight the joint statement by the Teachers Unions in Zimbabwe representing over 10 000 teachers. Teachers continue to raise the incapacitation of their members due to low wages and unsupported COVID 19 working conditions. We urge government to bring finality to this long drawn-out matter.
Critical Emerging Issues
Report on the nation’s testing capacity
We note the reduced number of COVID-19 tests being conducted, as shown by the Ministry of Health and Child Care statistics. The recent trends have shown a decline as follows:
- 27 September: 238 PCR tests
- 28 September: 504 PCR tests
- 29 September: 467 PCR tests,
- 30 September: 467 PCR test
Noting further with concern reports from our networks that persistently raise issues pertaining to details in obtaining results of COVID-19 tests, we question if the Nation is currently facing shortages of COVID-19 consumables and test kits.
We recognize the urgent need for an advanced testing strategy which ensures community mass testing and contact tracing. In the absence of mass community testing and public accounting for local transmission case-tracing, it is impossible to determine the appropriate reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic prevalence in Zimbabwe.
- We call for increased testing and the ramping up of accessing to testing kits and consumables for Zimbabwe.
- We therefore recommend that Government provides a clear plan of action in maintaining vigilance on COVID-19 on testing tracing and treatment for the current period to Mid-year 2021
- 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
- We further reinforce our call for an advanced testing strategy in the public sector and urge Government to update the Nation on the progress of testing of all members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, and all lockdown enforcement officers.
Hunger and delay in implementing social protection measures
We continue to highlight the 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 of 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe