277 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 30 December 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 13 625, after 300 new cases were reported, 287 local cases and 13 imported cases. Active cases go up to 2 111. The total number of recoveries stands at 11 154, following 87 new recoveries. The death toll now stands at 360, after 1 new death was recorded.
We reiterate the on-going and growing concern in the medical community regarding the spread of the COVID-19 infections in Zimbabwe. We highlight, with concern to the public, the severity of the second wave that has resulted in a surge in the average COVID-19 daily infection rate to 122 cases this week, as opposed to an average of 20 cases during the first wave.
There has been a spread of infections across all sectors. While the health sector continues to reel from increased cases and deaths in the critical frontline community, the education sector has seen a rise in cases in schools and learning centres, the creative industries sector has also suffered with the spread reaching the sporting community, cases and deaths have been recorded in the public service including very senior government officials, the media has not been spared either as has the agricultural sector which is in high gear at the moment the midst of the rainy season. We reiterate that COVID-19 does not avoid any sector, any person, any institution.
- We therefore, accordingly, urge the leadership of Zimbabwe, in the communities, the public institutions, the political arena, the private sector to demonstrate their leadership by respecting very strict observance of correct mask wearing to support the messaging of the need to be even more vigilant against infections despite the adherence fatigue across the nation. We need to step up the efforts to combat COVID-19.
- We urge citizens to continue to sanitise hands, ensure physical distancing but most importantly stay at home were possible and simply reduce the opportunities for infection.
Critical Emerging Issues
Physical faith based communal activities
We commend the efforts made by various religious groupings and spiritual centres who have taken strong actions to curb the mass gatherings that are often central to the demonstration of their faith. We applaud the efforts made by these critical social centres at community and national levels to ensure that their members and congregants are able to access their respective services in a diffused and devolved manner to combat the rising tide of infections.
We continue to remind the community to ensure all physical activities ensure all participants actually wear their masks during the services. There is no point in gathering in small numbers and yet all prayers, singing, religious rites and activities are performed with masks being dropped to the neckline. We remind the public that, once more, infections are on the rise and so is the speed of transmission which includes COVID-19 particles remaining in the air for a few minutes and can be a point of infection.
- We urge faith-based communities to wear masks correctly during all programs set for today and every other day.
- On this News Year’s Eve, we call upon this critical community to message strongly that large scale events such as overnight prayers, cross overs, “believe services” and other mass all-night events are completely cancelled.
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 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 the 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 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