236 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 20 November 2020, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 9 120 after 74 new local cases were reported. Active cases went down up to 626. The total number of recoveries now stands at 8 229 after 34 new recoveries were recorded. The death toll still stands at 265, as no deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.
We commend the efforts to strengthen messaging on COVID-19 which seeks to ensure greater adherence to COVID-19 measures. We call upon Government and community-based networks to:
- Develop and disseminate child and youth-specific messaging on COVID-19 in the home, in schools and in communities.
- Accelerate specific awareness outreach regarding anticipated border reopening procedures and protocols to ensure the greatest level of knowledge and enforcement mechanisms to anticipated travelers this upcoming month end.
We further call for Government to:
- Ensure rigorous preparation for COVID-19 resurgence in communities which a particular focus on hospital readiness in the respective provinces and
- Store the COVID-19 laboratory systems and supplies to support real time readiness for a resurgence.
Critical Emerging Issues
Management of COVID-19 deaths and burials
As the COVID-19 death statistics have continued to rise in the past days, we are concerned with reports from our networks on the risky handling of burials of COVID-19 bodies. We have noted a report in Gutu where community members buried a deceased person who had succumbed to COVID-19. In handling the burial, some of persons who handled the coffin did not put on any PPE such as masks and gloves.
We highlight the WHO COVID-19 Body Management and Burial Guidelines for COVID-19 persons which seek to ensure that bodies are managed in a manner that does not expose those who are near the body to potential infection. The WHO COVID-19 guidelines further make specific reference to cultural rites, which may include contact such as touching and kissing the body, and maintain that these are not permitted. Noting the increasing complacency and relaxation of the general public on COVID-19 prevention:
- We call upon the Government to strengthen awareness-raising efforts on the safety measures to be taken during burials to ensure the communities are well prepared in advance.
- We further reiterate that the preparation of bodies must be managed by persons who are adequately trained to handle such cases and are supported with sufficient PPE, and thus communities should exercise caution during burials.
Community mass testing
While noting the rising statistics of active cases, and the increased relaxation of the lockdown, we recognize the need for an advanced test strategy which ensures community mass testing and contact tracing. We submit that in the absence of mass community testing and public accounting for local transmission case-tracing, it is impossible to determine the appropriate reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic prevalence in Zimbabwe.
- We call for increased testing and the ramping up of access to testing kits and consumables for Zimbabwe.
- We call for stronger testing support for communities with schools that have learners and teachers testing positive for COVID-19 to ensure community-based support for COVID interventions and real-time tracing of the reach of the pandemic nationally.
- We, therefore, recommend that the Government provides a clear plan of action to maintaining vigilance on COVID-19 on testing, tracing and treatment for the current period to mid-year 2021.
- We further reinforce our call for an advanced testing strategy in the Public sector and urge Government to update the Nation on the progress of testing of all members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, and all lockdown enforcement officers.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe