334 days of the COVID-19 lockdown, and as of 25 February 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 35 994, after 34 new cases were reported. 30 cases are local and 4 were imported cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 14 and Matabeleland South with 6 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as of 1500 hrs on the 24th of February 2021 went down to 153 hospitalised cases, 72 asymptomatic, 44 mild to moderate cases, 32 severe cases and 5 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 2 081 as the total number of recoveries went up to 32 455, increasing by 45 recoveries. The recovery rate went up to 90.2%. The death toll has risen to 1 458 after 2 new deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.
The 47th day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we applaud the first release of tracking figures for vaccination. We note that from the inception of the first vaccination in Zimbabwe on the 18th of February that 11 007 cumulative vaccines have been given. We note that vaccines administered on the 25th of February were at 3 135 frontline health workers vaccinated.
We are concerned by the tone of remarks from Government implying compulsory vaccination of citizens. We reiterate that the decision of whether or not to vaccinate should ultimately lie in the hands of each person, without any form of blackmail, undue influence, duress or compelling conditions imposed by the authorities. Vaccines must be driven by informed choices of citizens. We urge government to avail enough information on vaccines so that citizens make their own informed decisions.
Critical Emerging Issue
Inconsistencies and selective application of the law
We are concerned with policy inconsistencies and the selective application of the law as far as public gatherings are concerned. We note that the government officials and the country’s leaders continue to wantonly disregard COVID-19 regulations and safety protocols for their own convenience. Online videos showing a huge political gathering convened by the Nation’s leadership at a Borehole commissioning ceremony (where no social distancing was practiced) negate the very intention of the COVID-19 regulations and the ban of public gatherings. The lack of seriousness and commitment on the part of the authorities in adhering to COVID-19 Regulations will be the fundamental determinant on whether Zimbabwe defeats the pandemic or not.
- We therefore urge the Government of Zimbabwe and the country’s leadership, to exercise urgency in safeguarding citizens by practicing what they preach by faithfully adhering to the COVID-19 regulations and safety protocols.
- We remind the Zimbabwe Republic Police that no one is above the law, and hence urge the uniform application of the law on all citizens of Zimbabwe, regardless of colour, status and political standing.
Private sector procurement of vaccines
We note the policy position announced by the Deputy Minister of Child and Health Care that the private sector can procure vaccines for their members and workers and these will be delivered for free and through the public health systems.
- We urge Government to support this position by announcing the applicable measures within the system to ensure that vaccines are not sold and further are not commercialised to the detriment of the nation.
- We remind Government of the critical role to ensure that vaccines remain a public good that is equitably accessible to all.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe