301 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as at 23 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 31 007, after 484 new cases were reported. All are local cases and the highest case tally was recorded in Manicaland at 131. We note that the hospitalisation rate on the 23 January 2021 went up to 278 hospitalised cases, 172 mild to moderate cases, 89 severe cases and 17 cases, in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went up to 8 656. The total number of recoveries went up to 21 377, following 297 new recoveries. The recovery rate now stands at 69%. The death toll has risen to 974 after 12 new deaths were recorded.
We continue to note with concern the publishing of the Harare Hospitalisation data as though it is national hospitalisation data. We continue to call for the publishing of national hospitalisation data including provincially disaggregated data and applicable percentages.
The 19th day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we note a huge decrease of the death toll in the country on 23 January. We are hopeful that this could be a signal that even in the absence of the vaccine, there is some progress regarding management of the COVID-19 virus. We continue to call for the publishing of the community home-based COVID-19 care cases and critical support to those who are providing home-based care to COVID-19 patients. We continue to indicate that several African countries are actually tracking cases of COVID-19 being treated and managed at home and community level to ensure comprehensive support and reporting.
Critical Emerging Issue
Protecting frontline workers and uninterrupted access to health care services
We are distressed by the news regarding the temporary closure of two health centres in Matebelaland North, particularly Lupane Rural Health Centre and Jotsholo Rural Health Centre. The closure comes after 10 staff members at Lupane Rural Health Centre and 1 staff member at Jotsholo rural health centre tested positive for COVID-19. We are therefore concerned about the safety of healthcare workers nationwide. Secondly, we raise concern regarding access to health care services for communities affected by the temporary closure of the 2 hospitals.
- We therefore reiterate the prioritisation of the safety of frontline workers, as this impacts on the country’s level of success and efficiency towards containment of the pandemic.
- We urge provision of adequate PPE and training of all frontline responders regarding the handling of this ever-evolving COVID-19 virus, in order to minimize their risk of exposure.
- We urge the Government to publish data on clinic and hospital closures including numbers of days closed and the levels of closure as part of critical SGBV data reporting.
- We further recommend putting in place emergency ad hoc measures to ensure that communities in Lupane enjoy uninterrupted access to healthcare services, pending re-opening of the Health facilities.
Social protection during lockdown
We continue to raise the urgent need for Government to ensure that the lockdown is supported with the prioritisation of livelihood support in communities. We are concerned with the silence or lack of public communication by the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare regarding safety nets for vulnerable communities during this hard lockdown. We continue to amplify our concern that the majority of women in Zimbabwe and women-led households are facing the biggest impacts in food security, income loss, and caregiving burdens.
We therefore urge Government to expand social safety nets and offset economic impacts for COVID-19 and the subsequent hard lockdown. We further highlight that the lockdown can only be successful if citizens do not need to place themselves in danger as they seek to secure food, water and livelihood support. We underscore the fact that the inability of households to respect the lockdown is directly correlated to other persisting deprivation and insecurities they face on a day-to-day basis. The pandemic will continue to bedevil the nation especially, if the measures to increase access to social-economic goods and services, as part of strong social protection systems, are not implemented by Government.
- We therefore recommend that Government announces the direct distribution of basic commodities and food in communities similar to the subsidized mealie meal distribution program.
- We call for the expansion of the cash transfer support to vulnerable households and the direct increase of the amounts to support vulnerable households.
- We call for the provision of support for households who are no longer able to sustain themselves due to loss of livelihoods, especially women-led households.
Home-based care and the high number of community deaths
We note a high rate of COVID-19 deaths being recorded in households, of patients who have been receiving home-based care. We further note the limited numbers of COVID-19 patients admitted to health institutions. In Harare alone, out the 38 deaths that were recorded, 17 occurred within households. This brings to the fore discussions on home-based care and the support systems to assist such households. Reports from our networks indicate the non-operation of isolation centres in areas such as Kwekwe, Kariba and Bulawayo. Given these challenges, we reiterate the need for the Ministry of Health and Child Care to officially communicate and publicize information regarding the state of Isolation centres and hospitals throughout all Provinces and Districts of Zimbabwe.
- We urge Government to introduce and implement measures to support home-based carers and primary care-givers in order to ease their burden and to minimize further risk of transmission.
- We urge upscaling efforts on safe isolation centres which are not overcrowded and also cater for the needs and rights of women such as the availability of sanitary aid and sexual and reproductive health services.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe