Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 237 – WCoZ Situation Report

237 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 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 highlight the context of council clinics in Harare. We are concerned with the number of council clinics that are simply closed. We acknowledge the support being provided by various civic health organisations who are literally providing services in tents within council premises. We further acknowledge that civic organisations in the health sector are plugging a real gap in providing access to Anti-Retroviral Treatments, TB medication and sexual and reproductive health services.

We remain however concerned that the council clinics themselves are closed or are offering significantly reduced services.

We are alarmed that even basic services, such as the weighing of infants and immunisation programs, are not practically accessible on the ground to infants.

We are completely dissatisfied with the fact that women have to continue to seek to raise inaccessible USD to pay for access to private health care clinics to get simply services like a monthly neonatal check-up. This is not okay.

We are further concerned by the criss-crossing that women have to undertake from one side of the Harare Metropolitan Provinces to the other-side of the same province to access basic health care and maternal services in a context of extremely limited and abusive public transport services. 

  • We call for urgent state-driven interventions to address the above crisis in a manner that strongly reflects responsiveness to women directly in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Critical Emerging Issues

Increased social activities and non-compliance with COVID-19 prevention measures

We continue to note the growing practice of non-adherence to safety measures such as physical distancing, sanitization of workplaces, wearing of facemasks 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 especially in a context where COVID-19 is quickly gaining ground in schools and tertiary institutions. We therefore worry that such complacency displayed by the public, businesses and employers may plunge the country into another wave of COVID-19.

  • We applaud enforcement agents in strengthening efforts to ensure adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures.
  • 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 and safety protocols in the public transport system.
  • We urge businesses to continuously fumigate premises and workplaces for the safety of workers and patrons.

Outstanding Issue 

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 the 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 are strictly 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 the bodies must be managed by persons who are adequately trained to handle such cases further and supported with sufficient PPE, and thus communities should exercise caution during burials.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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