329 days of the COVID-19 lockdown and as of 20 February 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 35 768 with a reported recording of 58 new cases. All are local cases, of which the highest case tally was recorded in Bulawayo with 24 cases and Harare with the second-highest tally at 17 new cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate, as of 1500 hrs on the 19th of February 2021, went up to 155 hospitalised cases, 73 asymptomatic, 47 mild to moderate cases, 30 severe cases and 5 cases Intensive Care Units. Active cases went up to 2 240 as the total number of recoveries went up to 32 096, increasing by 124. The recovery rate now stands at 89.7%. The death toll has risen to 1 432 after 2 new deaths were recorded.
The 42nd day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we join the rest of the Nation in commemorating National Youth Day. Amidst the celebrations, we continue to urge compliance with the lockdown measures in order to minimise risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Critical Emerging Issue
Community mass testing
We continue to note reports in the public domain wherein communities are not fully confident in the efficacy of the COVID-19 tracing and testing currently being undertaken. We emphasize the need for an advanced testing strategy that ensures community mass testing and contact tracing, to support the ongoing vaccine rollout.
We submit that in the absence of mass community testing and public accounting for local transmission case-tracing, it is impossible to determine the appropriate reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic prevalence in Zimbabwe.
- We urge a complete re-prioritisation of mass-based community testing.
- We further reinforce our call for an advanced testing strategy in the Public sector and urge Government to update the Nation on the progress of testing of all members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, and all lockdown enforcement officers.
As various Provinces are set to kick-start the vaccination exercise this coming week, we continue to urge responsible authorities at local, provincial and National levels, to be transparent and accountable in the entire vaccination rollout exercise.
- We are concerned with lack of information regarding the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
- We are concerned at the risks of “queue jumping” in regards to eligibility of persons accessing the vaccines.
- We continue to challenge the development and deployment of the rollout 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.
- We continue to question 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe