229 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 12 November 2020, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 696 after 29 new cases were reported, 28 are local cases and 1 is a returnee from Burundi. Active cases went up to 381. The total number of recoveries now stands at 8 060 after 14 new recoveries were recorded. The death toll still remains at 255, after no new deaths were recorded on the 12th of November.
Aware of the increases in COVID-19 cases and particularly concerned regarding an atmosphere where drinking spots appear to have fully resumed operations in contravention of the 10 pm night curfew, we note that, as the weekend starts off, various entertainments places and clubs which had closed down are scheduling weekend bashes and reopening parties which do not adhere to COVID-19 regulations for the sector.
Whilst aware of the COVID-19 fatigue, we remain particularly alarmed by widespread reports in both rural and urban communities which indicate a full relaxation of wearing or even holding masks in the night. It would appear that Zimbabweans have taken to the belief that COVID-19 is not transmitted in the night.
- We call for stronger messaging on adherence to COVID-19 measures.
- We call for specific programs to support the entertainment industry to ensure patrons respect physical distancing and mask wearing.
Critical Emerging Issues
Increased social activities and non-compliance with COVID-19 prevention measures
Our networks continue to report increased social activities within communities, drinking spots and businesses on Fridays and well into the weekend. 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 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.
Cold chain development for vaccine delivery
Amidst growing euphoria regarding the progression of vaccine candidates, we continue to highlight studies in the global logistics chain management systems by DHL and McKinsey which seek to raise awareness and support progressive actions by Governments in anticipation of COVID-19 vaccine global roll-out, towards the end of 2020 into mid-2021. The study notes that currently, more than 250 vaccines across seven platforms are being developed and trialed around the world. It further notes that as COVID-19 vaccines have leapfrogged development phases, stringent temperature requirements (up to -80°C) are likely to be imposed for certain vaccines to ensure that their efficacy is maintained during transportation and warehousing. Currently, the global cold supply chain management system conventionally distributes vaccines at -2 to –8°C. The report strongly urges that “To respond effectively to the next public health crisis, governments need to start putting strategies and structures in place today, rather than relying on reactive, ad hoc measures when the crisis hits.”
- We therefore urge the Government of Zimbabwe that during the restructuring of the health sector and the on-going Inter Ministerial Team on COVID-19 readiness for vaccine distribution in Zimbabwe is practically planned for and invested in necessary.
Mobility challenges in rural Kariba
Reports in Kariba have indicated that citizens in Kariba are facing serious mobility challenges, following Government-imposed public transport restrictions. In Kariba, the DDF ferry (boat) which is one of the most accessible modes of transport to the rural populace, particularly to Mola, Chalala, fishing camps and other hard to reach areas, has not been operating since March 2020. Despite the relaxation of the lockdown measures, all resumption of intercity travel permitted, the DDF ferry has cited operational challenges linked to COVID-19 prevention measures.
- We urge the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, and also the Ministry Local Government and Public Works to ensure implementation comprehensive solutions to this challenge.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe