315 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 6 February 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 34 48 after 156 new cases were reported. All are local cases, of which the highest case tally was recorded in Manicaland with 77 cases with Harare and Midlands tied with 26 new cases each. We note that the hospitalisation rate on the 5th of February 2021 went down significantly with 90 hospitalised cases, 4 asymptomatic, 63 mild to moderate cases, 17 severe cases and 6 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 4 788 as the total number of recoveries went up to 28 383 following a continued increase in recoveries by 238 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 82%. The death toll has risen to 1 316 after 13 new deaths were recorded.
The 31st day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we highlight press reports that indicate a very serious discrepancy regarding the commitment and participation of Zimbabwe in the WHO-led COVAX vaccine facility, which is the much touted mechanism that is due to lead in providing support to Zimbabwe’s access to vaccines.
We are concerned that it appears that the Zimbabwean Government, to date, has not actually signed onto the facility.
The lack of administrative action to ensure that the country is indeed preparing for the COVAX facility is indicative of a dereliction of duty. This is despite numerous government officials indicating that the country is in the process of securing and preparing to deploy vaccines from the COVAX facility. This policy position is untenable.
- We call the Government to order.
- We call the Parliament of Zimbabwe to urgently engage the Executive on the matter which is of critical national interest.
Critical Emerging Issue
Protecting frontline workers and uninterrupted access to health care services
We are concerned by the reports highlighting that the number of health workers testing positive for COVID-19 at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo had increased to 289, with 80 new cases recorded in just one month. This is distressing as we note that more and more health workers continue to be infected by the deadly virus on a daily basis. In the last month, wherein 64 Health workers tested for COVID-19 at Chinhoyi Hospital, barely 2 weeks after a number of staff workers at both Jotsholo and Lupane rural health centres had also 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 the handling of this ever-evolving COVID-19 virus, in order to minimize their risk of exposure.
COVID-19 prevalence and citizens response
We note a notable decrease in COVID-19 cases and deaths and we continue to heed the advice of health authorities and experts to be vigilant and exercise caution, by ensuring observance of public health guidelines and safety protocols such as physical distancing, use of face-masks to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
We grow concerned at the relaxation in communities in regards taking personal actions to safeguards themselves by using COVID-19 measures and further at the resumption of normalcy in urban rural and peri-urban communities whilst are still under the auspices of the lockdown. We call for the development of strong COVID-19 messaging system beyond the planning for vaccines, which, whilst helpful, are not a panacea to the pandemic.
Funding modalities for COVID-19 vaccines
We note with concern the discrepancies in the public domain regarding the funding by Treasury to securing COVID-19 vaccines. We note with concern the announcement by the Ministry of Finance on the 6th of February 2021 indicating that Government welcomes and appreciates the offer by the private sector to complement Government resource commitment in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and accordingly Government shared details where citizens and the private sector may make deposits towards this effort. This contrasts significantly with the announcement on the 31st of January 2021, wherein the Government indicated it had 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. The amount was reported to have been secured from the 2020 budget surplus and a reallocation of the 2021 National Budget Funds to support procurement of vaccines. However, we also note the remarks by the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Mangwir who, in a Live interview on ZTN on the 4th of February 2021, remarked that Treasury was marshalling “about USD 25 million” to support the procurement of the vaccines.
- We call upon government to clarify exactly how much Treasury is committing to spending and the exact amounts marshalled by development partners and the types of funding arrangements being entered into the support access to vaccines.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe