256 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 9 December 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 11 007, after 95 new cases were reported, all local cases. Active cases went up to 1 556. The total number of recoveries went up to 9 147 following 85 new recoveries. The death toll now stands at 304, following 1 reported death.
Today we join the rest of the world in commemorating International Human Rights Day. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a new force threatening to curtail the rights of women and girls, we continue to reiterate that women’s rights are human rights which must be promoted at all times. We therefore call for the promotion and advancement of fundamental human rights and freedoms, which include the right to water, clean environment, personal dignity, access to information, and freedom of expression, amongst others.
Critical Emerging Issues
Second wave of COVID-19 across our Borders
We note the dramatic increase of COVID-19 cases and deaths in our neighbouring country, South Africa, which has prompted the health officials to declare a second wave of the pandemic. This is particularly concerning for Zimbabwe, especially in the context where land borders have been opened.
- We therefore urge the Border Surveillance authorities in Zimbabwe to be vigilant and responsive at points of entry to manage and minimize the risk of imported cases.
- We urge travellers to observe COVID-19 regulations and safety protocols by ensuring that they get tested for COVID-19 and produce the requisite legal valid COVID-19 test certificates at entry points.
- We further urge travelers, who may feel they have been exposed to COVID-19 in the course of their travel to the border or at the border to raise their concerns at COVID-19 surveillance points to facilitate contact tracing and testing.
- We urge COVID-19 Surveillance Officers at points of entry to dispense their duties in a manner that is responsive to the inalienable human rights of COVID-19 patients.
Management of COVID-19 deaths and burials
As the COVID-19 deaths statistics have continued to rise in the past days, we highlight the need to ensure proper and safe handling of burials of COVID-19 bodies. 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 in contact with the body to the potential of infection. The WHO COVID-19 guidelines further make specific references to cultural rites that are not permitted, which may include contact, such as touching and kissing the body. 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