324 days of the COVID-19 lockdown and as of 15 February 2020 the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 35 222 with a reported recording of 50 new cases. All are local cases and of which the highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 14 cases and Bulawayo with the second-highest tally at 9 new cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as of the 15:00hrs on the 14th of February 2021 went up to 109 hospitalised cases, 8 asymptomatic, 59 mild to moderate cases, 39 severe cases and cases in 3 cases Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down further to 3 053 as the total number of recoveries went up to 30 759 increase by 158. The recovery rate rose to 87.3%. The death toll has risen to 1 410 after 10 new deaths were recorded.
The 38th day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we commend the resumption of the sittings of the Parliament of Zimbabwe which were kick-started by the appearance of and Vice President of Zimbabwe and the Minister of Health and Child Care, VP C.D.N Chiwenga. We further commend the publication of the research on prevalent strains of COVID-19 that have determined that the variant identified in South Africa is at 61% dominance in Zimbabwe at present. We await the publication of further and deeper research results regarding potential mutations or variants to investigate.
Critical Emerging Issue
As the 1st batch of vaccines in the country arrives from China as part of the 200 000 donated vaccines and 600 000 purchased vaccine batch, we urge the Government to be transparent and accountable in the entire vaccination roll-out plan.
- We are concerned at the risks of “queue jumping” in regards to the eligibility of persons in accessing the vaccines.
- We continue to challenge the development and deployment of the roll-out plan that has excluded the participation of organised forums of civil society and employees.
- We also continue to critique the planned practicalities for supporting the adult population to actually connect easily to the vaccination drive.
We remain concerned at the categorisation and prioritisation of the first group of persons to be vaccinated and remain concerned at those within that first group who will be excluded due to issues such as HIV and other immune system suppressing illnesses. We are further concerned at the exclusion of persons of the first group due to diabetes and hypertension. In our view, without are targeted appreciation of the health burdens of the same targeted and prioritised groups.
- We continue to question to the rationale of undertaking, a vaccination drive, prior to formal investigation and assessment of the efficacy of the vaccines by the Zimbabwe National Immunisation Advisory Group.
Extension of Lockdown
We appreciate the announcement of lockdown measures which have been extended for the next two weeks. The measures will support a focus on the reduction of COVID-19 infections whilst being complemented by vaccine roll-out.
We note further the stated purpose of the lockdown to enable health personnel to investigate the presence and circulation of new variants. We commend the efforts being made in this regard as a key element to addressing COVID-19.
- We call upon Government to publish the results of such investigation to the public as soon as the process is complete.
We note changes in the current measures that represent a relaxation of rules. In particular, the extension of working hours 8am to 5pm. We further note that curfew hours have also been reduced but remain in place. Inter-city and inter provincial travel remain banned and the number of funeral goers remains limited to 30 people.
We however query the vagueness of measures pertaining to the resumption of the informal sector as guided by WHO guidelines.
- We challenge the government to provide clear infrastructure investment in informal sector commercial spaces and in community markets.
- We call for a clear explanation of regulation to guide the informal sector does not leave them at the mercy of vague directives that promote weaknesses and abuse of citizens in enforcement patterns.
We further remain concerned about the failure of the announcement to address particular directives on matters such as borders and ports of entry, the decongestion and safety public transit systems. It would be more futile and a waste of the efforts made thus far directives regarding the new normal are not clear, not fully inspected and not supported.
- We urge Government to ensure that the above steps that are not addressed do not lead the country into a potential 3rd wave.
Community Based Isolation Centre
We continue to raise concerns with placing the treatment and management of COVID-19 in communities, particularly, where there are no supportive community-based mechanisms to support the undue and inappropriate home-based care model in effect. We continue to decry the lack of fully equipped isolation centres supported by the central government, thereby forcing patients to resort to home-based care. We continue to note the fact that the management and treatment of COVID-19 in homes, does not receive any form of support Government, which may include PPE, thereby 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe