347 days of the COVID-19 lockdown, and as of 10 March 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 36 341 after 20 new cases were reported. All cases are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 8 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as at 1500hrs on the 9th of March 2021 went down to 122 hospitalised cases, 76 asymptomatic cases, 24 mild to moderate cases, 19 severe cases and 3 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 899 as the total number of recoveries went up to 33 953, increasing by 34 recoveries. The recovery rate now stands at 93.4%. A total of 140 frontline workers were vaccinated, bringing the cumulative number of the vaccinated to 35 901. The death toll still stands at 1 489.
We continue to note the slow pace of vaccination and urge for the Government to undertaken a range of actions to dispel concerns regarding the vaccines already administered and provide increased information on the progress and monitoring of persons already vaccinated.
Critical emerging issue
Opening of schools
We note the imminent phased resumption of the education sector, with exam writing classes expected to commence lessons on 15 March 2021, and the rest of learners opening on 22 March 2021. We also note the rollout of the Vaccination programme’s second phase which will encompass University lecturers and teachers. We highlight concerns over the apparent exclusion of pregnant and breast-feeding university lecturers and teachers, who are likely to be at an increased risk of exposure as they report for duty on a daily basis.
- We continue to emphasise the need to prioritise the safety of learners, together with their teachers and supporting staff, within the education sector.
- We urge that preventative measures for vulnerable pupils in preparedness for the resumption of schools, be clear, transparent and tangible
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 engagers 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 the 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe