316 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 7 February 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 34 552 after 65 new cases were reported. All are local cases of which the highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 25 cases while Masvingo recorded the second-highest tally at 18 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate on the 6th of February 2021 went down significantly with 84 hospitalised cases, 11 asymptomatic, 56 mild to moderate cases, 9 severe cases and 8 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 4 675 as the total number of recoveries went up to 28 551 following a continued increase in recoveries by 168 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 82.6%. The death toll has risen to 1 326 after 10 new deaths were recorded.
The 32nd day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we highlight concerns regarding the efficacy of the Astra Zeneca vaccines that we anticipate using in Zimbabwe. We note the halting of the vaccines program in South Africa as the efficacy of the vaccines against the COVID-19 variant in circulation in South Africa is undertaking further assessment and research.
We call for the Government to update the nation on progress regarding the tracing of the variants in circulation within the Zimbabwean population urgently prior to the inception of the vaccine program.
We highlight concerns regarding the drop in testing. We are concerned that the warning we have been issuing regarding taking measures to maintain a high rate of testing is part of the testing framework towards the end of the lockdown. We are concerned that compared with the 14th of January 2021, wherein PCR tests conducted were over 3 000 tests per day, the present average rate of testing has dropped to 1000 tests per day. Today the current number of PCR tests done was 1064 tests.
- We urge Government to upscale community testing by ensuring mobile testing is undertaken in communities.
- We urge Government to ensure that the drop in cases is not correlated to a drop in testing.
Critical Emerging Issue
Zimbabwe’s participation in the WHO COVAX vaccine program
We amplify 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 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.
Mental health support to communities
Noting the strain of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown on citizens especially COVID-19 patients and frontline workers. We note the trauma caused by the burden of home-based care under the difficulties of the lockdown and accordingly:
- We urge prioritisation of strengthening systems for basic psychological support and the screening of persons showing strain and signs of mental health challenges.
- We further emphasize the need to ensure that such services are easily accessible to communities in both urban and rural communities.
Funding modalities for COVID-19
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 Mangwiro, who in a Live interview on ZTN on the 4th of February 2021, remarked that Treasury was marshalling “about USD25million” 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