245 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 28 November 2020, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 9 822 after 108 new local cases were reported. Active cases went up to 1 075. The total number of recoveries now stands at 8 472 after 2 new recoveries were recorded. The death toll goes up to 275 after one death recorded.
We note that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has been adamant in its position that ZIMSEC exams should proceed this week as scheduled. We further note the announcement that COVID-19 positive pupils will sit for exams in isolation. We continue to query the practicability of this move, especially when the following questions are posed: Are the pupils infected with COVID-19, in a healthy mental and physical state to sit for such crucial exams? Who will invigilate pupils sitting for exams in isolation? Has Government provided adequate PPE to teachers, pupils and ancillary staff?
Critical Emerging Issues
Handling of returnees utilising illegal entry points
We commend the intensifying of security at illegal entry points, as a measure to limit potential spreading of COVID-19 by returnees who are attempting to gain entry without being tested or subjected to quarantine.
We however raise concern in the manner in which some of the returnees are allegedly being handled, e.g being huddled together without physical distancing or sanitization as they await being sent to quarantine centres. We highlight that this practice may increase the risk of infection amongst returnees before they are even committed into quarantine.
- We therefore urge health authorities to ensure prioritisation of safety of all returnees by ensuring that the handling of returnees is conducted in a safe and expedient manner, without opening them up to a potential risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Poor adherence to COVID-19 by Inter Provincial Buses
We shine a spotlight on buses engaging in Inter provincial travel. We are deeply concerned by the complete relaxation of COVID-19 measures on the buses. In the context of the increased cases of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe and concerned with the low testing rate of the country, we note with concern reports from travellers indicating the high level of inconsistencies in ensuring sanitisation on the buses.
Whilst, we note that there is high adherence in requesting passengers to have masks, it does not translate to requests that passengers actually wear those masks.
Further, there are clear inconsistencies in providing sanitizers prior boarding of buses and even usage of sanitizers during journey that often are over 3 hour journeys.
- We call for increased enforcement of COVID-19 measures on public transport to ensure that we reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 domestically due to travel.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe