344 days of the COVID-19 lockdown and as of 7 March 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 36 271 after 11 new cases were reported. All cases are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Bulawayo with 5 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as of 1500hrs on the 5th of March 2021 went down to 130 hospitalised cases, 78 asymptomatic cases, 23 mild to moderate cases, 19 severe cases and 10 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 952 as the total number of recoveries went up to 33 8034, increasing by 29 recoveries. The recovery rate now stands at 93.3%. A total of 226 frontline workers were vaccinated, bringing the cumulative number of the vaccinated to 32 240. The death toll remains at 1 485 after no new death were recorded.
Critical emerging issue
Equality and participation in COVID-19 decision-making positions
We note a big structural gender imbalance problem within the COVID-19 taskforce structures at District, Provincial and National levels. Statistics indicate that very few women have been included in the COVID-19 response leadership structures. Research in Zimbabwe and the world over, has underscored the fact that although women have been on the frontlines of COVID-19 as first responders, health providers, primary care-givers and engagements with communities, their meaningful representation in policy development and decision making on COVID-19 has remained limited. The effects of poor women’s representation in the COVID-19 structures have manifested in Government’s and decision-makers’ failure to adequately respond to the specific needs of women and girls during COVID-19, e.g in quarantine and isolation centres. Moreover, this has also led to the failure by decision-makers in the taskforces to collect sex-disaggregated data, in order to inform policies and gender-sensitive policies on COVID-19. We therefore call for:
- Implementation of Constitutional provisions, particularly, sections 17, 56 and 80, which speak to gender balance, and equality in representation in all spheres of Zimbabwe society. This includes COVID-19 Taskforce and Response groups at all levels.
- Urgent publication of analysed sex and age disaggregated data by Government on the composition of the COVID-19 taskforce teams throughout the country.
- Establishment of Gender Advisory Experts at all levels of the National COVID-19 Response Structures.
Community mass testing
We note a decrease in the number tests currently being undertaken on a daily basis, especially in light of the vaccine rollout currently underway. We emphasize the need for an advanced test strategy that ensures community mass testing and contact tracing. We continue to emphasize 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 against de-prioritisation of testing, over the vaccine rollout.
- 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe