278 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 31 December 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 13 867, after 242 new cases were reported, all are local cases. Active cases go up to 2296. The total number of recoveries stands at 11 250, following 96 new recoveries. The death toll now stands at 363, after 3 new deaths were recorded. (We note a slight discrepancy in the report summary versus the report chart which includes a recording of 4 deaths with a death in Midlands – we await verification on this matter).
We enter the New Year amidst the euphoria of the COVID-19 vaccines at various stages of development, approval and distribution. We join the community of nations in celebrating human endeavour in responding rapidly to the global pandemic that has affected and infected millions of citizens across the world and negatively impacted lives and livelihoods at an unprecedented scale.
Whilst we are aware that Zimbabwe is part of various initiatives to bring into the country the COVID-19 vaccines, we reiterate a word against the availability of the same, in the local context. The vaccine is not likely to reach Zimbabwe in the first half of 2021 and even more unlikely to widely available to the general public prior to then.
We commend the efforts of the Government at this stage to engage and consult on the best mechanisms to secure vaccines for Zimbabwe
- We urge Government to consult, develop and publicise the plan for vaccine distribution once it arrives in Zimbabwe.
- We call upon Parliament of Zimbabwe to actively pursue its oversight powers in this regard to ensure that the vaccine distribution plan in Zimbabwe is real, tangible accessible and affordable for the generality of Zimbabwe citizens who have been brought to their knees by the pandemic.
- We call upon the engagement of community and religious leaders in advance to begin the critical foundational work to dispel myths and resistance to vaccines now as opposed to when the vaccines have arrived as this will undermine all efforts in this regard.
Critical Emerging Issues
Status of Communities Evacuated from Cyclone Charlane Areas
We note the reduction of Cyclone Charlane into a Tropical Depression.
We note with concern reports indicating the delays and distribution of food and other critical supplies in evacuation centres. We note further reports indicating the displacement of children at slightly higher rates than of adults.
We note further reports indicating the disruption to power supplies in Manicaland affecting evacuation centres and potential delays in getting power distribution up and running in short periods of time.
We note the large scale amounts of rain in Matebeleland North in particular. Tsholotsho received 87 millimetres (mm) and Lupane received 68mm. We note with relief, that that there are no reports of flooding at the moment.
We note reports of rainfall for 69mm (Chivhu), 58mm (Chikomba), 54mm (Kwekwe) and 42mm (Mutare).
- We urge communities to continue to take heed of advice to monitor their homes to see if their homes or structures may be getting damage due to excessive moisture.
- To avoid travelling were possible and if travel is necessary to desist from attempting to cross fast flowing or flooded rivers and streams whether walking or driving.
- We continue to warn of the dangers of the roads which due to rainfall may be slippery, and contain hidden dangers covered by water, including fallen trees, utility poles, and live wires.
- We call upon the Government to provide all support necessary to ensure the restoration of power supplies to affected regions and to ensure evacuation centres have reliable power supplies to guard against violence against women and girls risks.
- We urge the Government to ensure security the communities with evacuated citizens who are concerned of their potential loss of property due to the risks associated with evacuation
- We reiterate the need to implement 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.
Physical Faith Based Communal Activities
We commend the efforts made by various religious grouping 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 mask being dropped to the neckline. We remind, once more that 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 which 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.
- We continue to call upon this critical community to resist the temptation to host large scale events as is tradition at the beginning of the year.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe