Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 308 – WCoZ Situation Report

308 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 30 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 33 273, after 321 new cases were reported. All are local cases, of which the highest case tally was recorded in Harare at 92 cases. Midlands has the second highest new case tally of 70 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate on the 29th  January 2021 went down to 108 hospitalised cases, 87 mild to moderate cases, 16 severe cases and 5 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 6 719 as the total number of recoveries went up to 25 361 following 489 recoveries. The recovery rate increases to 76.2%. The death toll has risen to 1 193 after 15 new deaths were recorded. 

The 26th day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we note the announcement by Government that it has managed to mobilise USD 100 million to support the procurement of 20 million doses for the COVID-19 vaccination to vaccinate 10 million people, approximately 60% of the Zimbabwean population, to meet herd immunity targets. We applaud the efforts of Government to marshall the resources to bring vaccines to Zimbabwe. We call for Government to give details and specifics of the source of funds and the auxiliary modalities that are supporting the process. 

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.

Critical Emerging Issue 

Protecting frontline workers and uninterrupted access to health care services

We are distressed by the news regarding 64 health workers testing for COVID-19 at Chinhoyi Hospital. This comes barely 2 weeks after the closure of 2 health facilities in Matabeleland North after 10 staff members at Lupane Rural Health Centre and 1 staff member at Jotsholo rural health centre tested positive for COVID-19. We therefore amplify concerns for the safety of health workers nationwide. 

  • 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 handling of this ever-evolving COVID-19 virus in order to minimize their risk of exposure.

Outstanding issues 

Safety nets for women and vulnerable communities during Lockdown

Noting the extension of the lockdown, we emphasize the need for 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.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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