Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 307 – WCoZ Situation Report

307 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 29 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 32 952, after 306 new cases were reported. All are local cases, of which the highest case tally was recorded in Harare at 93 cases. Bulawayo has the second highest new case tally of 46 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate on the 29th January 2021 went down to 200 hospitalised cases,  116 mild to moderate cases, 72 severe cases and 12 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 6 902 as the total number of recoveries went up to 24 872 following 453 recoveries. The recovery rate increases to 75.5%. The  death toll has risen to 1 178 after 18 new deaths were recorded.  

The 25th day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we are concerned with the lack of official guidance from the Ministry of  Health and Child Care regarding the efficacy of traditional treatment methods such as steaming “kunatira’’ and  Zumbani tea. We urge clear communication and messaging from the Ministry regarding this issue, in order to inform citizens accordingly. The ministry has both institutional and sectoral capacity to provide guidance on this matter. The matter at hand is to simply provide steps to communities battling the disease on their own. 

We highlight further the on-going floods in the country with reports of flooded rivers right across the country including in dry arid communities such as those crossed by the Bubi river, popularly referred to as the sand river. We urge strengthened responsiveness of community response teams to communities stranded on river banks and those trapped during flash flooding. We highlight the increased risks of malaria and other water borne diseases and call upon the vigilance of district taskforce teams to outbreaks. We call on the Ministry of Health and Child Care to be on the ready to distribute critical supplies once outbreaks are reported.  

Critical Emerging Issue  

Safety nets for women and vulnerable communities during lockdown 

Noting the extension of the lockdown, we emphasize the need for the prioritization of women’s access to social safety nets during COVID-19 and the hard lockdown. 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. 

Outstanding issues  

Community management of COVID -19 

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 incoming patients for COVID-19. In our network, reports indicate that a high number of persons are testing positive for COVID-19, despite being asymptomatic.  

  • We urge Government to develop a real community based plan to such back and manage the pandemic. 
  • We call for direct support to patients being managed through home-based care.  

Based on our experiences and those of our loved ones affected by COVID-19, we question the notion that since only 10% of the cumulative active COVID-19 cases require consistent supervised hospital-based care, COVID-19 can be  effectively and efficiently treated at home.

Citizens have witnessed the rapid deterioration in communities of patients  who have had little support or none, in certain instances, from the public health care system. We emphasise that all  COVID-19 patients, rich or poor have the right to professionally supervised healthcare. This is particularly so as we have noted from our community reports that home-based care is beyond the capacities of families who are traumatised, untrained and anxious.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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