275 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 28 December 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 13 148 after 71 new cases were reported, with 69 local cases and 4 imported cases. Active cases now stand at 2 089. The total number of recoveries stands at 10 705, following 112 new recoveries. The death toll now stands at 354, after 5 new deaths were recorded.
Critical Emerging Issues
Safety of evacuated communities in Chimanimani
We note that evacuation is currently underway in Chimanimani as Government prioritises residents’ safety, in preparation and response to the possibility of Cyclone Chalane hitting the area. Applauding this hands-on action, in the same breath, we emphasize the imperative need to strike a balance between ensuring that communities are safeguarded from the Cyclone and at the same time, minimizing the communities’ exposure to COVID-19. We are concerned with the manner in which the evacuation is currently being handled without any compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols such as physical distancing, face-mask wearing and sanitization. It is therefore crucial for Government to communicate and implement its COVID-19 prevention plan for evacuated communities so as to ensure that the evacuation itself does not become a COVID-19 super-spreader activity.
- We therefore urge the development and implementation of comprehensive strategies to ensure that evacuated communities are safeguarded from COVID-19.
- We further urge the prioritisation of women’s rights during the evacuation period, including uninterrupted access to sexual reproductive health rights and prevention from violence.
Fake COVID-19 test certificates and unauthorised laboratories
There are growing concerns and reports of COVID-19 test results being illegally issued to travellers by unqualified and unauthorised persons at some Border entry points. 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. Concerns have also been raised over the exorbitant fees currently being charged for conducting a PCR test by private health institutions, which are priced beyond the reach of many.
Approved and reputable centres are charging between US$50 and US$85 for the test, therefore prompting travellers to resort to unauthorised illegal channels for obtaining COVID-19 certificates.
These challenges, if not urgently responded to, will pose difficulties in early detection and surveillance, thus leading to a growing spike of COVID-19 cases, particularly as we approach the festive season, where we are likely to experience heavy traffic of travellers streaming in and out of Zimbabwe.
- We therefore urge the Ministry of Health and Child-Care to implement comprehensive strategies in ensuring that Government testing services are easily accessible to the general public at reasonable and affordable costs.
- 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 enforcing agents to be on the look-out for unscrupulous individuals who partake in 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