252 days of the COVID Lockdown , and as of 5 December 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 10 617, after 70 new cases were reported, of which 50 are local cases, while 20 are returnees from South Africa. Active cases went up to 1 482. The total number of recoveries went up to 8 844, following a new 46 recoveries. The death toll stands at 291, following 10 new deaths recorded.
This marks the highest single death count in one day in the pandemic in the second surge which is not showing signs of abating. We are gravely concerned with the spread of the disease, which daily reports indicate, a need to intervene to ensure that in the next two weeks –which is the traditional travel season as family congregate and travel to see each other does not become a period of further increases in contraction of cases and or an increase in fatalities.
Whilst we note that only 30 of the over 9 000 schools in Zimbabwe thus far have recorded cases of COVID-19, we remain concerned at reports that indicate that the contraction of COVID-19 in schools was accompanied by COVID-19 cases in surrounding communities. This calls for stronger community testing systems with the applicable strengthening of contact tracing and testing.
We are further concerned by community reports that indicate that in some instances families that have been contact traced and are subjected to testing are having only a few members being tested and others not receiving tests. This is causing anxiety in families and communities and weakening the robust approach that was in place in the beginning of managing the pandemic. We call for investment in to significant community testing and stronger counselling to be provided to families at the provincial teams undertake their work under extremely difficult circumstances.
Whilst government resources may indeed be constrained, the COVID-19 pandemic requires the state to double down and pursue better health outcomes for the population to avoid the potential loss of life and increased disease burden on the country.
Critical Emerging Issue
Increased social activities and non-compliance with COVID-19 prevention measures
Despite the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, we continue to note the growing practice of non-adherence to safety measures such as physical distancing, wearing of facemasks and regular temperature checks. Our networks have also raised concern over a high number of super-spreader social activities such as parties and weddings, where the public, including leaders and high-ranking public officials are disregarding maintenance of public health safety protocols such as physical distancing, and use of face-masks. This raises concern especially in a context where COVID-19 local transmission cases are quickly gaining ground. We therefore worry that such complacency displayed by the public, employers may plunge the country into another wave of COVID-19.
- We applaud enforcement agents to strengthening efforts to ensure adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures.
- We urge leaders to lead by example in observing COVID-19 regulations and safety protocols such as wearing of masks.
- 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.
Fake COVID-19 test certificates
There is a growing concern regarding COVID-19 test results being illegally issued to travellers by unqualified and unauthorised persons at some Border entry points. The Zimbabwe Republic Police has confirmed arrests of such persons at Chirundu Border Post, who were conducting illegal COVID-19 tests to travellers. This is particularly distressing in an operating context where COVID-19 cases are on the rise, with Surveillance teams working hard to contain the situation.
- We urge travellers to be vigilant and desist from conduct which places not only their individual lives, but those of others too, at risk. Travellers and citizens at large, should get tested for COVID-19 at properly and legally designated points and institutions.
- We commend and urge the enforcing agents to be on the look-out for unscrupulous individuals who partake in such risky and reckless behaviour.
- We further urge citizens to make concerted efforts in complying with COVID-19 regulations so as to ensure low risk of exposure to the disease.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe