Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 215 – WCoZ Situation Report

215 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 29 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 8 349 after 29 new cases were reported. Active cases went down to 243. A total of 19 new recoveries were recorded; therefore, the total number of recoveries stands at 7 864. The death toll stands at 242.

We highlight the alarming spike in cases wherein 29 people tested positive for Covid-19 as the total number of cases in the country rose to 8 349. Bulawayo holds 13 cases of the 29 cases, Manicaland province 4 cases and both Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East recording one case each. This is concerning in terms of the spread of the cases of COVID-19 indicating potential spread of the virus domestically.

We note that presently reports indicate that in Matebeleland North at St Luke Mission student nurses are in quarantine after a nursing tutor who had travelled to Bulawayo (with 13 new cases) had tested positive for COVID-19.

We continue to reiterate concern for the safety of health care workers as they undertake their work and we raise alarm at the potential cases at St Luke’s, a Catholic Mission Hospital which serves as the largest health facility in Matebeleland North a province of over 749,017 people (2012). 

Critical Emerging Issues

Enjoyment of the constitutional right to access clean and potable water 

We raise alarm over the ongoing water crisis which negates the fundamental human right to access clean and portable water. As growing evidence reveals that women have continued to bear the brunt of the water shortages, the correlation between water and gender can no longer be denied. 

Recent distressing reports have shown that women and girls in areas such as Mabvuku and Tafara have become vulnerable to sexual harassment by some water-bowser suppliers of water. WCoZ thus submits that an unresolved water crisis will continue to pose serious implications on women and girls, thereby inherently giving birth to an unresolved gender equality crisis. 

The basis of this argument has been corroborated in the current context of Zimbabwe, where water shortages have negatively impacted women in the following ways:

  • Risk of sexual harassment and violence against women while fetching water from undesignated sources. 
  • Increased burden of unpaid care-work as women have to constantly travel long distances in search of water for washing of clothes, food preparation and household hygiene.
  • Poor sanitation and hygiene, particularly for women and girls during their menstrual cycle.
  • Nursing mothers require more water than anyone else: According to the WHO studies, the basic requirement for a lactating woman engaged in even moderate physical activity is 2.5 litres a day.
  • Lack of privacy.

We therefore recommend the following:

  • Long term comprehensive measures to address the water situation.
  • The ZHRC to closely monitor and investigate the status of the right to water vis-a-vis, the water crisis currently obtaining in the country. 
  • The Government working with other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the overall national sanitation and framework is gender-sensitive.
  • The rapid adoption of legal reforms to strengthen the sexual harassment legal framework in Zimbabwe.

Outstanding issues 

Complacency and disregard of public health guidelines in public spaces

Our networks continue to report increased economic and social activities within communities and businesses. The reports also reveal non-adherence to safety measures such as physical distancing, sanitization of workplaces and regular temperature checks. Our networks have also raised concern over some commuter operators plying long-distance routes failing to maintain public health safety protocols such as physical distancing, and sanitization.

This raises concern as such slackening may affect the system’s ability to detect potential COVID-19 cases amongst the commuting public, thus exposing the public to infection. We worry that such conduct may lead the nation into another spike of COVID-19 cases.

  • We continue to call for the strict implementation of public health safety protocols in the public transport system.
  • We urge enforcement agents to ensure that physical distancing is upheld by public transport operators.
  • We urge citizens to observe physical distancing as they meet and interact in public places such as banking halls.
  • We urge businesses to continuously fumigate premises and workplaces for the safety of workers and patrons.
  • We continue to call for the strict implementation of public health safety protocols in the public transport system.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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