224 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 7 November 2020, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 498 after 27 new cases were reported. Active cases went up to 252. The total number of recoveries now stands at 7 995 after 12 new recoveries were recorded. The death toll now stands at 251.
We note with concern the widespread reports form our members indicating increased failure to wear masks due to the discomforts caused by the current heat wave. We note with distress that the combination of reduced mask wearing practices, the drop in sanitisation and hand washing in public spaces and communal activities, the complete collapse of the adherence to physical distancing, tallies with the over 50% increase of COVID-19 cases in the July to October period. We are therefore raising alarm regarding the need to enforce stricter adherence to measures to protect communities from the spread of the disease and avoid potential illness and loss of life.
Critical Emerging Issues
Increased social activities and disregard of public health guidelines
Our networks report increased social activities within communities, drinking spots 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 be leading the nation into a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
- We urge citizens to observe public health guidelines as they meet and interact in public places such as drinking spots and beerhalls.
- 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 businesses to continuously fumigate premises and workplaces for the safety of workers and patrons.
PPE supplies to support Phase 3 of reopening of schools
We note reports by Government indicating that schools need to procure 10 million washable masks from NatPharm which is facing significant strain in meeting demand and failing to supply adequately.
We note that the Phase 3 re-opening requires three masks per learner and per teacher yet the much-touted supply of the masks by schools has been hindered by the late payment for the masks by government affecting school-based production supply chains.
- We call upon Treasury to expedite payments for critical supplies even as we question why the delays exist in the first place on a national programs of such a scale.
- We call upon the Government to desist from a “full steam ahead” approach when we are aware that girls are disproportionality negatively impacted by being in schools that have limited to zero supervision and increase the vulnerabilities of adolescent girls to risk.
- We note with concern that the reopening of schools appears as a strategy to simply dump learners in schools and have no regard to the quality of care and quality of education outcomes that are expected.
Critical Emerging Issues
Returnee management systems at land borders
We note the changes in procedures for the returnees from South Africa arriving at Beitbridge Border Posts. We note that only 5 buses per day will be cleared for travel, by Zimbabwean consulates to the Beitbridge Border Post from any point in South Africa. We note further that all passengers intending to travel on such cleared buses must present COVID-19 Free certificates. We note with distress that these certificates are limited to 48 hours validity.
- We urge the consulates to continue to undertake their clearance process as a valuable service to the Zimbabwean community and urge increased efficiency and effectiveness in managing this process to the positive experience of the returnees.
- We call for the border management operations and systems to maintain high levels of inter-governmental coordination and support to the travelling public that does not increase vulnerabilities of women and children.
- We note that 48 hour validity of COVID-19 certificate is unreasonable as some destination in South Africa internally may legitimately take the same period to travel prior to arrival at Border. We call for an extension of COVID-19 free certificate to 72 hours.
- We call for the similar advisories regarding other border posts to be stated publicly to avoid confusion to the traveling public.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe