293 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 14 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 26 109, after 741 new cases were reported. All cases are local cases and 263 cases are from Harare alone. Active cases went up to 10 009, after 700 new recoveries. The total number of recoveries now stands at 15 414. The recovery rate once again, for two consecutive days, goes up from 1% to 59%. The death toll now stands at 666, after 30 new deaths were recorded.
The 11th day of the 2nd hard lockdown, and we note that ZUPCO has hiked fares effective Monday 18 January, 2021, with the bus fares for 1-20 km going up from ZWL$16 to ZWL$30, 21-30 km going up from ZWL $24 to ZWL $45. The timing could not be worse. The consequential impact of the ZUPCO hikes is the imposition of hardships against already impoverished citizens who are currently suffering under the lockdown. The struggles that come with the hard lockdown are too much, particularly considering the loss of income for most persons and households. We therefore consider this latest development to be insensitive and out of touch with the struggles and lived realities of Zimbabweans in this COVID-19 context.
Critical Emerging Issues
Update on the state of COVID-19 in Prisons
We commend the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS ) for shedding light on the current COVID-19 state in prisons. According to media reports, since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe last year, a total of 510 people tested positive, with 203 being inmates, 223 being prison officers and 84 being dependants of prison officers. Of the 510, 456 are said to have recovered while 4 died. Currently, the ZPCS is managing 50 COVID-active cases. We regard this information as critical, especially as prisoners are one of the most vulnerable groups in society, whose vulnerability has been exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate measures reported to have been put in place by ZPCS in curbing the spread of the disease in prisons, which include random and regular testing of inmates and prison staff.
- We, however, continue to emphasize the need to protect this vulnerable group by adopting robust measures which ensure that all persons are tested before being committed to any prison or holding cell where they may potentially expose others to the risk of COVID-19.
- We call out Government to provide the nation with an update on the status of COVID-19 in law enforcement officers including in the correctional services.
Infection Control Strategy
We urge a shift in strategy pertaining to the COVID-19 cases which are on the rise. We draw attention to the increase in domestic COVID-19 cases and highlight that COVID-19 prevalence in our communities is high and not adequately understood due to low testing patterns. We call for a focus on containing the domestic spread of COVID-19.
We urge a complete re-prioritisation of mass-based community testing and mass-based community tracing of contacts.
As cases of COVID-19 rise, we are concerned about reports in the public domain wherein communities are not confident in the quality of tracing and testing being undertaken.
- We urge Government to focus on domestic containment of infections of COVID-19 by utilising a host of measures, including but not limited to decongestion, provision of food and finances for vulnerable households who have been lost their livelihoods and income generating capacities due to the lockdown, robust testing and tracing capacity of contacts and provision of PPE.
- We call for Government to undertake inspections (as had been announced) of the private sector who are permitted to continue operating as essential services to determine the levels of provision of PPE in those places.
- We call for Government to step up the plan to provide PPE to frontline healthcare workers. We cannot collectively contain a pandemic without protecting those interfacing with possible and proven COVID-19 cases.
- We call for the private sector to provide their respective workforces with adequate PPE.
- We call for Government to resist the temptation to rely on donations and development partners but should unveil direct treasury support, at a level commiserate with the pandemic, to the lives of its own citizens, which is a priority mandate of the state; in particular to address the direct Treasury support for the mass provision of PPE, mass community testing, and treatment therapies, including hospital beds, oxygen and ventilators to public hospitals directly.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe