Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 304 – WCoZ Situation Report

304 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown and as of 26 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 32 004, after 358 new cases were reported. All are local cases, of which the highest case tally was recorded in Harare at 159. We note that the hospitalisation rate on the 26th January 2021 went down to 213 hospitalised cases, 139 mild to moderate cases, 62 severe cases and 12 cases, in Intensive Care Units. Active cases, went down to 7 488, following 536 recoveries. The total number of recoveries therefore went up to 23 413. The recovery rate continues to rise, now standing at to 73.2%. The death toll has risen to 1 103 after 28 new deaths were recorded. 

The 22nd Day of the 2nd hard lockdown and the nation is only left with less than 10 days before the end of the hard lockdown. The aftermath of the hard lockdown remains unknown, with the public largely speculating on whether or not it will be extended. We are confident that whatever decision will be made by Government, will be based on evidence and the country’s COVID-19 situation in the coming days. We however emphasize the need to timeously inform the public on the course of action to be taken, in order to allow effective planning on the part of citizens and businesses.  

Critical Emerging Issue 

Public access for SGBV survivors to hospitals 

We continue to highlight that global evidence on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that reveals that Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) is rising rapidly and that access to services and modes of delivery of services for victims/survivors of this type of violence are changing quickly, due to measures to contain the virus at the international, national and local levels. Our own experience in Zimbabwe has shown that the lockdown has, to an extent, exacerbated known drivers of intimate partner violence (IPV) and domestic violence such as increased stress at the household level, as well as lockdowns, social distancing or self-isolation making it harder for women and girls to escape abuse and access support. Reports also indicate that regular health, psychosocial and safe-house services are being overwhelmed, while traditional walk-in services are becoming harder to access or not operating. 

Due to travel bans and other lockdown measures, access to critical services such as clinical management of rape, healthcare services for survivors of violence in the home or family, sexual and reproductive healthcare, as well as mental health and psychosocial support, have been interrupted in certain instances. This has posed real danger of unplanned or forced pregnancy, unsafe abortions, inadequate prenatal and post-natal care for pregnant and lactating women, increase in Sexual Transmitted Infections including HIV, self-harm and suicide. Our monitoring reveals that survivors are facing challenges accessing services at hospitals, for example, in Harare where most of council clinics have been closed. In addition, road blocks and absence of travel letters have also contributed to the challenges in accessing services.  We note that these challenges discourage survivors from seeking help timeously.

  • We therefore recommend prioritisation of access to GBV especially SGBV services in public hospitals, at provincial land district levels and at other local clinics.
  • We further urge the publication of data relating to clinic closures, which is critical for tracking purposes and enhancing support services. 
  • We continue to call for expanded access to information on GBV services, including publicizing hotlines, tollfree lines and data base of local public health facilities where women and girls can receive compassionate and sensitive care. We recommend that this information be integrated into the national COVID-19 response messaging.

Outstanding issues

Social Protection during lockdown

We emphasize the need for prioritization of women’s access to social safety nets during COVID-19 and the 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 care-giving burdens. 

We 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 therefore urge Government to expand social safety nets and offset economic impacts for COVID-19 and the subsequent hard lockdown.
  • 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.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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