200 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 14 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 055, after 19 new cases were reported with 18 local cases and 1 imported case from Namibia. Active cases went up by 10 cases to 184. A total of 8 new recoveries were recorded. The total number of recoveries was at 7 640. The death toll had gone up to 231 after 1 death was recorded.
Noting, with commendation, the high rate of recoveries in Zimbabwe, we call our medical communities and the public to increase awareness a “Long COVID,” a phenomenon experienced by both severe and mild COVID-19 patients who continue to experience negative health experiences weeks and months after they have been marked as recovered. We highlight ongoing research findings, which indicate that long-COVID sufferers must receive support and that training to healthcare workers on the phenomenon should be increased. We further highlight, with distress, reports that indicate that long-COVID has been found in persons who had not been tested or recorded as positive for COVID-19 initially and also in persons who had not been hospitalised at all.
We spotlight, with increased dismay, the report by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe indicating that low income earning urban households of an average of 6 persons per household are facing an increase of 45.34% in their monthly baskets costs. This increase is over a one month period and the report reflects empirically the strain on households we have continued to raise as an undue and unmitigated pressures during a pandemic in Zimbabweans communities.
In August 2020 this same basket of goods cost $14 438.23 and in September 2020 this basket now costs $20 985.01 this increase is against a background of households with low formal employment and income based on the informal sector which continues to face operating restrictions related directly to COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
This strain weakens the capacity of communities to rebound without the state’s substantial and coordinated interventions into their livelihoods. As Parliament of Zimbabwe undertakes its 2021 National Budget Public Consultations this week, we continue to call upon Members of Parliament and the Executive to deliver a 2021 National Budget with real, tangible and accessible, social protection, economic support and development focused interventions.
Emerging Critical Issues
Non-adherence to public health guidelines
Our networks monitoring the COVID-19 situation in their communities have reported a continued 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 of the need to fortify their efforts in maintaining both social and physical distancing, in every environment which may include work, public transport or supermarkets.
- We urge communities and citizens to follow the proper use of masks, and to ensure strict compliance with the public health guidelines, in their day to day lives, and not only when travelling to their respective Central Business Districts.
Violence against children
Noting continued increase in media reports of untold horrendous acts of violence committed against children within the household, usually by their guardians or loved ones,
- We recommend the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to activate a proactive process of identifying and providing support to vulnerable children and families.
- We further urge Government to invest in key services for children, in health and nutrition, education and protection against violence are effective and direct means to reduce the occurrence of child labour in our communities.
- We call upon CSOs, stakeholders and Government to collectively support mechanisms to provide support to household through the deployment of Social Welfare officers to conduct the critical inspections at homes that are reported to be at risk and to respond to such risks by:
- Ensuring that helplines for children remain fully functional.
- Prioritising funding shelters and other places of safety for children.
- Expanding critical services for children and ensuring accessibility.
- Ensuring community child protection committees are supported to play their roles as community case care workers.
Shunning of face masks
We highlight, with concern, reports from our networks in rural communities, which indicate an increased level of rejecting face mask wearing. We note the negative messages that communities are directing towards mask wearers, labelling them as disrespectful and/or of acting as if the rest of the community is disgusting by wearing masks and/or of treating those around them as less than human by wearing masks around them. We condemn these messages.
- We urge Government, Faith Based Organisations, Traditional Leaders and all those working to accurately inform communities of the COVID-19 pandemic to step up the messaging which is facing real time challenges due to reported lower statics of the pandemic in the country and the rapidly resumption of all socio-economic activities.
We accordingly, also throw light upon low mask wearing practises in residential communities across the country. We note further, that these trends reflect relaxed attitudes towards the pandemic and a belief that the worst is over.
- We urge communities to remain vigilant continue to practice the highest levels of masks wearing particularly as we note the real tie constraints in public spaces of adhering to social distancing.
- We urge the frequent washing of hands and or the use of sanitizers.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe