309 days of the COVID-19 lockdown, and as of 31 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 33 388, after 115 new cases were reported. All are local cases of which the highest case tally was recorded in Mashonaland West at 29 cases. Masvingo has the second highest new case tally of 17 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate on the 30th of January 2021 went down drastically to 77 hospitalised cases, 64 mild to moderate cases, 9 severe cases and 4 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 6 127 as the total number of recoveries went up to 26 044 following an upshot in recoveries to 683 recoveries. The recovery rate continues to increase to 78%. The death toll has risen to 1 217 after 24 new deaths were recorded.
The 26th day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we note with concern the significantly reduced testing that has occurred over the weekend, in particular a drop of over 2000 tests less between tests performed on Friday the 29th of January 2021 as opposed to tests performed on the 31st of January 2021. We once more reiterate concerns regarding the sustaining the pace of testing and the expansion of proactive testing in communities who continue to raise distress calls yet without access to tests. We sincerely call the government to ensure that testing is on-going and that the rate of COVID-19 reported is not dropping due to a drop in testing but rather a result of infection control.
Critical Emerging Issue
COVID Vaccine Availability in Zimbabwe
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 marshal 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.
Prioritisation of women and girls’ rights and access to justice
We continue to emphasize that while Courts remain open as listed in the essential series designation, the entire domestic violence value chains must be supported cohesively to ensure the Level 4 lockdown (especially in light of the 2 week extension) does not in itself result in a pandemic within a pandemic. We reiterate lessons learnt during the first hard lockdown in April 2020, where the majority of women during that period, in the face of increased gender-based violence, failed to timeously access justice due to the constraints presented by the lockdown.
- While, the COVID-19 situation presents some unprecedented challenges, we recommend that, moving forward, our Courts and the judicial system expedite the development and investment towards digitalisation of the Courts and remote working to ensure that citizens continue to access justice, uninterrupted by any calamities and unforeseen challenges.
- We further call for vigilance and strengthening of the violence against women and girl’s national response systems. We remain concerned by the current weak state coordination and collaboration to ensure that violence against women and girls is funded and responded to directly and rapidly.
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 with 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe