305 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 27 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 32 304 after 300 new cases were reported All are local cases, of which the highest case tally was recorded in Harare at 104. We note that the hospitalisation rate on the 27th January 2021 went down to 205 hospitalised cases, 127 mild to moderate cases, 65 severe cases and 13 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went up to 7 495. The total number of recoveries went up to 23 687 following 274 recoveries. The recovery rate stands at 73.2%. The death toll has risen to 1 122 after 19 new deaths were recorded.
The 23rd day of the 2nd hard lockdown and the Nation remains hopeful as the recovery rate soars while that the fatality rate decreases. We remain concerned at the understating of the disease prevalence in communities. We challenge Government to present the community prevalence status of COVID-19 especially now that central hospitals have adopted a position to test all in coming patients for COVID-19. In our network, reports indicate that a high number of persons are testing positive for COVID despite being asymptomatic.
- We urge Government to develop a real community-based plan to manage the pandemic.
- We call for direct support to patients being managed at homes.
We reject the notion that since 10% of COVID-19 cases require consistent supervised hospital based care that therefore COVID-19 can be effectively and efficiently treated from home. We reject this notion in its totality once more. Those 90% patients with mild cases are actually very sick – we have seen rapid deterioration in communities of patients who have had no support from the public health care system that they invest in with their taxes. Communities are sick and have a right to supervised healthcare. Additionally, as seen in our community reports, care is beyond the capacities of families who are traumatised, untrained and anxious.
We urge the Government to resist policy flip flops during the pandemic. We call out unhelpful policy inconsistencies regarding the treatment and management of COVID-19 as evidenced by the actions regarding the use of Ivermectin.
We urge government agencies to put should to the wheel and implement a rigorous balanced approach in undertaking their respective mandates.
Critical Emerging Issue
Testing of COVID-19
We commend the increased pace of testing for COVID-19. Yesterday alone, a total of 3 666 tests were conducted nationwide. We remain concerned however that the testing that is driving the tracking and tracing of cases is being largely driven by the social and economic activities of individuals and the private sector. This is further supported by the numbers of persons approaching private sector approved facilities for COVID-19 tests. We are gravely concerned however at the low and limited rate of testing being undertaken by public hospitals and driven by the public sector initiatives on surveillance of COVID-19 themselves. We remain distressed at on-going and persisting community based reports of persons who have not accessed testing, facing a deterioration in their health status without access to healthcare or testing a community level. This threatens the very point of the second lockdown and limits the possibility of hard-won gains.
- We urge Government to roll out community testing wherein a team of healthcare workers undertake door to door services to screen and test for COVID-19. This is best practice and a direct means to trace outbreaks in communities.
- We urge Government to ramp up community mass testing in public health facilities.
- We further urge Government to intervene and secure a reduction in costs of tests in private health sector – the procurement costs of COVID tests are now as low as USD1.50 and no longer justify the abuse of citizens by the private sector at USD60 per test.
Public access for SGBV survivors to hospitals
We continue to highlight that global evidence on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic 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, psycho-social support 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 STIs 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, toll-free lines and a 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe