201 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 15 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 075, after 20 new cases were reported. Active cases went down to 175. A total of 29 new recoveries were recorded. The total number of recoveries stands at 7 669. The death toll has gone up to 231 after 1 death was recorded.
We note, with concern, the steady increase of new cases reported daily, in the period of resumption of socio-economic activities, we continue to call for vigilance in the adherence to guidelines requiring a change of behaviour in social distancing, hand washing and mask-wearing.
Emerging Critical Issues
Hunger and social protection measures
We note reports issued for August to September 2020 by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency highlighting that the Poverty Datum Line for one person in August stood at ZWL $1 442.00, while the line for five persons per household during the same month was ZWL $7 211.00.
The total Consumption of Poverty Line, for one person, stood at ZWL $3 449.00, while five persons per household during the same period stood at ZWL $17 244.
The current, relief pay-outs for vulnerable households are, however, shockingly pegged between approximately ZWL $300-$400. In the same breadth, we note the current COVID-19 context which is riddled with delays in implementing social protection measures.
This is particularly worrying, taking into account the negative impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable households, especially women-led households. We also highlight The World Food Programme report recently released indicating that 75% of Zimbabwe Urban Workers have been rendered jobless by the COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions.
- 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 expedited implementation of social protection programs for all vulnerable households.
Inflationary pressure on households
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 undue and unmitigated pressure 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
- We highlight the strain on the capacities of communities to rebound without direct state, substantial and coordinated interventions into their livelihoods.
- We call upon Parliament of Zimbabwe and the Executive to deliver a 2021 National Budget with real, tangible and accessible, social protection, economic support and development focused interventions.
Awareness of long COVID-19 sufferers
Noting, with commendation, the high rate of recoveries in Zimbabwe, we call our medical communities and the public to increase awareness of “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 governments must increase training of the phenomenon to healthcare workers.
- 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 have not been hospitalised at all.
Shunning of face masks
We highlight, with concern, reports from our networks in rural communities, which indicate an increased level of shunning of 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 statistics of the pandemic in the country and the rapid resumption of all socio-economic activities.
We accordingly, also throw light upon low mask-wearing practices 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 and to continue to practice the highest levels of mask-wearing, particularly as we note the real time 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