Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 320 – WCoZ Situation Report

320 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown and as of 11 February 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 34 949 after 85 new cases were reported. All are local cases, of which the highest case tally was recorded in Bulawayo with 23 cases and Mashonaland West with the second-highest tally at 17 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate on the 10th of February 2021 went down to 114 hospitalised cases, 7 asymptomatic, 59 mild to moderate cases, 41 severe cases and 7 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 3 937 as the total number of recoveries went up to 29 630 following a continued increase in recoveries by 159 recoveries. The recovery rate slightly increased to 84.8%. The death toll has risen to 1 382 after 18 new deaths were recorded.

The 36th day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we highlight the imminent end of the lockdown period as we approach the 15th February 2021. We note the forthcoming announcement of lockdown measures and we call upon the Government to undertake significant steps to support the reduction and stoppage of infection control. We call for measures that will aggressively compliment the potential vaccine deployment.

  • We urge concerted efforts to decongest authorised public transport.
  • We further emphasize the need to re-enforce sanitation measures on public transport services.
  • We call for strengthened support to education centres and schools to access adequate water and sanitation services to support tangible processes regarding the re-opening of physically schooling.
  • We call for expanded community testing to ensure adequate testing and tracing regardless of the onboarding of vaccines.
  • We recommend support to the establishment and sustenance of community-based isolation centres to alleviate the hardships of families and communities that cannot self-isolate.
  • We urge supermarkets and retailers to increase in-store monitoring and increased management of physical distancing at pay points and exists.
  • With the expected return to economic activities underway, we call for the active inspection of private sector premises to ensure the private sector retrofit production lines and respect COVID-19 measures regarding distances and safety.

Critical Emerging Issue 

Conditions and treatment of patients at Ngomahuru Psychiatric Hospital in Masvingo

We raise alarm over the current situation at Ngomahuru Psychiatric Hospital in Masvingo. We are outraged by reports revealing water shortages at the institution for over a month now. This dire situation has forced patients to bathe and source water at a nearby river. Whichever way we look at it, it is a humanitarian crisis that requires authorities to act swiftly and rapidly. We are outraged by the repeatedly demonstrated neglect of health institutions by authorities. 

  • We therefore call to order the Government of Zimbabwe, together with its line ministries and departments, to immediately direct focus to the humanitarian crisis at Ngomahuru and execute its constitutionally charged duty to protect and promote the rights of citizens.
  • We call on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission to intervene and launch an investigation into the persistent human rights crisis at Ngomahuru.  If the authorities cannot provide water to key populations and vulnerable sections of society in this COVID-19 era, where the core message for COVID-19 prevention is centred on water and sanitation, one can only question if at all, the State COVID-19 response takes into account the needs of vulnerable populations. Psychiatric patients have rights too, and it is the duty of the Government of Zimbabwe and the constitutionally charged Commissions, to protect these rights.

Community based isolation centres

We continue to raise concerns with placing the burden of treatment and management of COVID-19 on communities, particularly, where there are no supportive community-based mechanisms to support the undue and inappropriate home-based care model in effect. Whilst we applaud the opening of a 22-bed isolation centre in Gwanda for use by COVID-19 patients, we accordingly note that the delay in establishing this first community isolation centre so late into the COVID-19 crisis, wherein the infections were clearly community-based. Therefore, we continue to decry the lack of isolation centres supported by the central government. We continue to cite the fact that management and treatment of COVID-19 in homes do not receive any support including even gloves or PPE, thus exposing and expanding the risks of infection to communities. In light of the potential mutations to the virus, this continues to be a real danger.

  • We call upon the designation of appropriate centres as community isolation centres and support to those centres. 
  • We urge expediting establishment of community isolation centres in other districts to ensure easy accessibility by communities. 
  • We further emphasize prioritisation of the needs and rights of women including sexual and reproductive health services in isolation centres.

Outstanding Issues

Detainees and prisoners

We continue to highlight the situation of arrested and detained persons during COVID-19. We are concerned by the outstanding reports of the status of COVID-19 in the detainee and prison population. 

We continue to call out Government to provide the nation with an update on the status of COVID-19 in law enforcement officers including in the correctional services.

  • We call for the Prison Inspectorate to conduct a special series of COVID -19 assessments and visits to holding cells and prisons.
  • We continue to await the adoption of robust measures to ensure that this vulnerable population is not subjected to undue hardship and exposure to COVID-19. 

Arrests as response to COVID-19 

We note statistics from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) highlighting that a cumulative total of 403 544 persons have been arrested since 30 March 2020, for violating national lockdown measures. We also note the increased penalties for those detained, fined and/or arrested by police for violating lockdown measures. We fully appreciate the efforts of enforcement officers in enforcing lockdown measures, but we remain concerned at the lack of substantive ameliorative and supportive socio-economic measures that have placed citizens in the path of enforcement officers. 

  • We call for urgent reconsideration of the National Budget not only for purposes of the procurement of the vaccines but to provide holistic relief to the lives and livelihood of hard hit citizens 

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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