239 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 22 November 2020, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 9 220 after 48 new local cases were reported. Active cases went up to 702. The total number of recoveries now stands at 8 250 after 15 new recoveries were recorded. The death toll has risen to 268 following 3 new deaths.
We applaud the Government for initiating a community based COVID-19 study under the National Zero-Prevalence Survey for COVID-19. We note with commendation the screening of more than 70 000 households in all the 54 districts of the country.
We note that the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) is targeting rural communities with a view to test approximately 4 600 individuals.
We note further that this survey will support the assessment of determining the spread of COVID-19 across Zimbabwe to give a stronger picture of the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe.
A steady increase in COVID-19 cases whilst a relaxation of measures have resulted in reopening of society without strong enforcement mechanisms has resulted in the spread of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe.
This testing survey, whilst not as large (at approximately one person per community) as we could have wished, is a strong step in the right direction to provide mass community testing and contact tracing.
- We call for increased testing and the ramping up of access to testing kits and consumables for Zimbabwe.
- We continue to 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.
- We call for the unveiling of COVID-19 surveillance measures which will be placed under strain when land borders open on the 1st of December 2020.
Critical Emerging Issues
Safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights in the time of COVID-19
We continue to bring to the fore, safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights, during COVID-19. This is anchored on the adequate representation of women in decision-making positions within the COVID-19 response structures. We emphasize that women’s solutions should be informed by women’s experiences and lived realities.
We therefore highlight lack of adequate women’s representation in various COVID-19 structures. We provide the following recommendations:
- A gender lens approach to all COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery efforts by Government, Parliament, decision-makers, local authorities and other stakeholders.
- Inclusion of more women’s rights organisations in the taskforce structures.
COVID-19 Outbreak in Masvingo Provincial Hospital
We amplify reports from Masvingo Provincial Hospital where 20 persons have tested positive for COVID-19. We raise the matter, in our report of the 14th of November, concerning COVID-19 cases at the hospital, not only among the general public but pertaining to healthcare workers, and the disproportionately negative implications of healthcare workers facing COVID-19 on women and maternal health care directly.
Presently, reports indicate that new cases of COVID-19 are being recorded at the hospital daily and that the maternity wing of the Hospital is failing to provide adequate services to expecting mothers as midwives and other healthcare workers are now in quarantine and others in isolation at Rujeko Isolation Centre.
We continue to highlight grave concerns for the healthcare workers who are continuing to report for duty under extremely difficult circumstances. Healthcare workers are continuing to raise their concerns regarding poor workplace conditions which are causing critical frontline workers to lose confidence in the capacity of their places of work to be safe environments.
- We amplify these concerns with regard to the realities of healthcare workers and their experiences during this pandemic which have included, amongst other factors, on-going inconsistencies in accessing PPE, placing undue risk and strain on frontline healthcare workers who predominately are women.
- We further continue to reiterate the low representation of women in policy-making positions in the healthcare sector in the COVID-19 response architecture. Women do not drive the sector nor hold critical mass in decision-making positions which ultimately affects the healthcare force, dominated by women on the ground.
- We further raise concerns on staffing shortages, in non-metropolitan provinces, created through the implications of healthcare workers who understandably have to go into quarantine and self-isolation. These shortages directly compromise the levels and quality of service provision to the health-seeking public and, in particular, have a direct negative impact on maternal and infant health care which is already under strain.
We underscore, once more, that ultimately the negative fallout of COVID-19 management in the healthcare sector has a direct correlation to women’s and girls’ lives and rights as women constitute the bulk of the health-seeking public.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe