Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 269 – WCoZ Situation Report

269 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 22 December 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 12 544, after 122 new cases were reported, 105 local cases, and 17 imported cases. Active cases therefore went up to 2 059.  The total number of recoveries stands at 10 159, following 47 new recoveries. The death toll now stands at 326, following 4 new deaths. 

Critical Emerging Issues

Inconsistencies and selective application of the law

We are concerned with policy inconsistencies and selective application of the law as far as public gatherings are concerned. We note that government officials and the country’s leadership continue to wantonly disregard COVID-19 regulations and safety protocols for their own convenience. Online videos showing a huge political gathering in Chivi today, (where no social distancing was practiced) negate the very intention of the COVID-19 regulations and the ban of Christmas parties. The lack of seriousness and commitment on the part of the authorities in adhering to COVID-19 Regulations will be the fundamental determinant on whether Zimbabwe defeats the pandemic or not.

  • We therefore urge the Government of Zimbabwe and the country’s leadership, to practice what they preach by faithfully adhering to the COVID-19 regulations and safety protocols.
  • We remind the Zimbabwe Republic Police that no one is above the law, and hence urge the uniform application of the law on all citizens of Zimbabwe, regardless of colour, status and political standing. 

Super-spreader risk at Border Entry points

We note the distressing situation at the Beitbridge Border Post, where thousands of travellers have been reported to be sleeping in parked vehicles for over 2 days while waiting to cross the Beitbridge border post in Limpopo, where queues of trucks, taxis and cars stretch for kilometres.  We also note distressing news of a  Zimbabwean  traveler, a woman who died, after collapsing near the Beitbridge border post , while awaiting clearance. The situation at Beitbridge is worrisome as it presents the risk of the Border Post becoming a super-spreader for COVID-19, with most travelers not caring much about mask wearing and physical distancing.

  • We therefore recommend intensified efforts in ensuring speedy clearance and service of travellers at the entry points.
  • We urge the Government to protect the efforts made in the health sector thus far by ensuring strict compliance with COVID -19 safety protocols at the Border
  • We further urge steps to prevent to the new variants from entering the country during these busy times where there is a peak in returning travellers.

Outstanding issues 

Reduced media coverage of COVID-19

We note, with growing concern, reduced media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe, as the Nation continues to endure the second wave of infections which appears to be stronger than the first wave. We further note the COVID-19  fatigue not only amongst communities but also amongst stakeholders, duty bearers, the media and the information community. 

Cognisant of the key role played by the media in addressing matters of national concern;

  • We call upon the media to remain vigilant to the pandemic in Zimbabwe 
  • We call upon the editors and respective newsrooms to continue to prioritise the coverage and reporting of COVID-19 as we face difficulties in navigating the curve of infections over a festive period which a real risk of being a super spreader period.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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