276 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 29 December 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 13 325, after 177 new cases were reported, 144 local cases and 33 imported cases. Active cases go down to 1 899. The total number of recoveries stands at 11 067, following 362 new recoveries. The death toll now stands at 359, after 5 new deaths were recorded.
We commend the deferment of the opening of schools by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. The deferment represents a demonstrable prioritization of learners’ and staff safety and protection from COVID-19.
- We urge the Government to utilise the time period to ensure schools are adequately prepared for COVID-19 protocols prior to the resumption of the school calendar now slated for further in the year.
- We continue to buttress our calls on the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education on ensuring implementation of clear strategies for safeguarding the health of exam-writing pupils and minimizing risk of COVID-19 exposure.
Whilst we commend the preparations being undertaken by communities, citizens and the Government in seeking to be ready for the possible negative impacts to the cyclone, we call upon the Government to consider the support necessary to communities which are being targeted for evacuation by ensuring the elderly, persons with disabilities, families living on the streets, prisoners and detainees are adequately and appropriately catered for we call for vigilance in evacuation centres against crimes, sexual offences and harassments of persons.
We urge a constant reminder to all supporting and facilitating responsiveness to the cyclone, to respect strict correct mask-wearing and whenever possible sanitize their hands. We remain deeply concerned at the burden of facing the impact of the cyclone and COVID-19 outbreak simultaneously.
Critical Emerging 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 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 this being a super spreader period.
Safety of evacuated communities
We note that evacuation is currently underway in Chimanimani and other areas 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 while 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.
- Implement disaster readiness plans that integrate a gender lens, including prioritisation of protection of women and girls from violence in evacuation centres.
- We further urge the prioritisation of women’s rights during the evacuation period, including uninterrupted access to sexual reproductive health rights.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe