270 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 23 December 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 12 656, after 112 new cases were reported, 111 local cases, and 1 imported case. Active cases therefore went up to 2 067. The total number of recoveries stands at 10 259, following 100 new recoveries. The death toll now stands at 330, following 4 new deaths.
The day before Christmas celebrations, our monitoring revealed increased movements as citizens prepared for the Christmas holiday celebrations. We continue to bring under the spotlight public transport operators engaging in both long and short distances. We are deeply concerned by the complete relaxation of COVID-19 measures on the buses, particularly during this festive season. This is especially worrying in the context of the increased cases of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe and concerned with the low testing rates.
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 is 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 festive season travels.
Critical Emerging Issues
Safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights in the time of COVID-19
As we move into the festive holidays, against the backdrop of an increase in COVID-19 cases, we continue to bring to the fore, the need to safeguard women’s and girls’ rights. This is anchored on the adequate representation of women in decision-making positions within the COVID-19 response structures.
We emphasize that women’s solutions should be informed by women’s experiences and lived realities. We therefore highlight the lack of adequate women’s representation in various COVID-19 structures. We provide the following recommendations:
- A gender lens approach to all COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery efforts by Government, Parliament, Decision-makers, local authorities and other stakeholders.
- Inclusion of more women’s rights organisations in the taskforce structures.
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 the new variants from entering the country during these busy times where there is a peak in returning travellers.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe