281 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 3 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 15 265, after 774 new cases were reported, all are local cases.571 cases are from Harare. Active cases go up to 3311. The total number of recoveries stands at 11 574, following 211 new recoveries. The death toll now stands at 380, after 3 new deaths were recorded.
We call for vigilance and strengthening of the violence against women and girls national response systems. We remain concerned and weak state coordination and collaboration to ensure that violence against women and girls is funded and responded to directly and rapidly. We note that whilst the criminal courts remain open as listed in the essential series designation the entire domestic violence value chains must be supported cohesively to ensure the next 30 are not a pandemic within a pandemic and demonstrate the response to lessons learnt from the first hard lockdown.
We remain concerned that the delayed development and implementation or announcement of ameliorative measures for communities and citizens upon the announcement of the lockdown. We are gravely concerned that the lockdown is a lockdown on the poor and those who are in marginalised and disadvantaged communities.
We urge the government to announce the measures to provide support to households that are going to be made vulnerable due to the lockdown on their economic activities. We call for clear and tangible support to the vulnerable households to ensure they are not made more destitute by public health policies that deepen their insecurities. We call for the resuscitation of mealie meal in a community to community distribution model that had begun to support actual safe door-to-door deliveries of subsidised mealie meal.
Critical Emerging Issues
Status of Hospital Readiness
As the country records the highest new case count and the announcement of the stricter lockdown we note the reports of COVID-19 in hospital communities’ increase and the lack of availability of hospital beds, oxygen supplies and ventilators in hospital. We note with concern the reports indicating that on one hand several COVID-19 hospitals are at full capacity with referrals now being made to neighbouring towns /provinces.
We also note with alarm the high costs of admission for COVID-19 patients with costs ranging between US$ 2 500 to US$5000 being requested upfront prior to admission.
We note further the shortage of oxygen machines and ventilators
- We call upon the Government to publish formally the Zimbabwe COVID-19 hospitalisations rate.
- We call upon the Government of formally publicize the status of the COVID-19 response capacity in hospitals regarding in particular availability of oxygen to bed ratios and ventilator availability.
These formal statistics are in the public interest and are part of standard best practise globally and regionally.
Lockdown on Sporting Activities
We highlight the lockdown measures currently in place. We highlight in particular the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), fresh ban on all sporting activities with immediate effect, pending a review on January 31 2021.
We further highlight that sporting associations are required to resubmit applications to resume their activities during the new lockdown measures which will be granted on a case by case basis. Essentially this means netball, handball, cricket and hockey among a few other are now back to being banned.
- We call upon the sporting and exercise communities to respect the announcement in regards.
- We urge communities to consider alternative regimens that are not collective to stay fit.
- We are aware of community clubs and groups which provide much-needed sporting and exercise support in our communities and urge them to support safe exercise during the lockdown.
- We urge enforcement officers to refrain from the usage of excessive force in enforcing lockdown regulations.
COVID-19 Testing in Schools
We highlight a policy clarification from Government regarding COVID-19 certificates for learners upon the resumption of in-class schooling. We note the recent clarification stating that Schools are not permitted to demand COVID-19 certificates from learners as they return to schools upon entry into schooling premises. We reiterate that Schools have in place screening procedures to determine if students may have been exposed to the risk of COVID-19 infections. It is upon that screening that determines if a student is required to undergo testing or not.
- We therefore call for schools and learning centres to desist from communicating demands to parents regarding a demand for COVID-19 certification which is an additional financial burden on households at a cost of USD30 at public hospitals and USD60 at private hospitals remains out of the purview of many.
- We urge families to avoid unnecessary travel and excursions for children and themselves.
- We call for adherence to strict COVID-19 protocols to ensure that learners are and remain healthy.
- We call for upgrades to schooling communities’ water and sanitation facilities prior resumption of schooling.
Beitbridge Community and COVID-19
We highlight reports regarding the increased congestion at Beitbridge Border Post in Beitbridge Town once more. As travellers are returning to South Africa post the festive break, congestion has arisen due to increased traffic. We note the reduced border hours from 24 hours to 12 hours as the border now effectively operates from 6am to 10pm for ordinary passengers and non-essential goods. We note with concern however that the measures are causing backlogs and congestion in the border areas and in the surrounding town. In the context of the heat and long waiting hours, the strain on families, the elderly and the vulnerable.
- We urge travellers to take heed of the reduced border operating hours and consider planning their return trips accordingly.
- We call upon Border Officials to actively facilitate the expediting of travellers with young children, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups.
We further note with concern the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Beitbridge community, we highlight reports indicating Beitbridge District Hospital with two doctors, several nurses and other staffers who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- We call for increased provision of adequate PPE’s
- We call for the increased provision of social support to healthcare workers who continue to provide critical services under incredibly difficult circumstances.
We further highlight the cases of COVID-19 in 18 students from Mukaro Mission in Gutu and Welton Private Primary School, who stay in Beitbridge Town.
We continue to note the risks that are faced by border officials who are contracting COVID-19 and call for strengthening of the safety protocols in the discharge of their duties in highly congested spaces.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe