265 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 18 December 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 12 047, after 181 new cases were reported, all local cases. Active cases therefore went up to 1 837. The total number of recoveries stands at 9 894, following 58 new recoveries. The death toll now stands at 316, following 2 new deaths.
We highlight concerns regarding the alarming number of cases recorded at Mpilo Central Hospital with a record of 74 Covid-19 cases over the past four days. Bulawayo province presently accounts for over 32% of the 620 new cases recorded in Zimbabwe over the same four day period. We note that the cases include a nine-month-old baby and 14 staff members infected. We continue to highlight reports indicating that the infected staff members operate from the Mpilo’s Persons under Investigation (PUI) ward for COVID-19 and their other infected colleagues operate from the National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory which undertakes COVID-19 tests.
We accordingly highlight the need for healthcare workers to access adequate PPE supplies. We remain concerned that the calls for PPEs by representatives of healthcare workers whose members remain the lead guard in ensuring the health sector, as fragile as it is, maintains a level of viability to offer support to patients as the second wave crisis continues to endure.
Critical Emerging Issues
Community Mass Testing
While noting the rising statistics of active cases, and the increased complacency amongst the general public, we recognize the need for an advanced test strategy that ensures community mass testing and contact tracing, especially during the festive season. We submit that in the absence of mass community testing and public accounting for local transmission case-tracing, it is impossible to determine the appropriate reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic prevalence in Zimbabwe.
- We call for increased testing and the ramping up of access to testing kits and consumables for Zimbabwe.
- We call for stronger testing support for communities with schools that have learners and teachers testing positive for COVID-19 to ensure community-based support for COVID-19 interventions and real-time tracing of the reach of the pandemic nationally.
- We therefore recommend the Government to provide 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.
Ban of social gatherings during Christmas
We note emphasis on the ban of social gatherings such as parties, all-night prayers and beerhall operations during Christmas. While this, understandably, has been prompted by the need to minimize potential spread of COVID-19, we are particularly concerned by the conduct of some leadership and Government Officials who do not seem to be bothered by the need to comply with the Regulations. This careless behaviour by officials who continue to throw lavish parties and gatherings and attend without any masks does not send out the correct COVID-19 message to the general public. In addition, the selective application of the law on citizens leaves a lot to be desired and hence leading to defiance by the general public.
- We therefore urge the leadership and Government senior officials to walk the talk on COVID-19 prevention by ensuring that they comply with the laws.
- We urge law enforcement agents to ensure strict enforcement of the lockdown on all citizens, regardless of position, status, influence and standing of any persons.
- We urge businesses to continuously fumigate premises and workplaces for the safety of workers and patrons.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe