348 days of the COVID-19 lockdown and as of 11 March 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 36 377 after 36 new cases were reported. All cases are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 10 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as of 1500hrs on the 10th of March 2021 went down to 120 hospitalised cases, 76 asymptomatic cases, 22 mild to moderate cases, 19 severe cases and 3 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases slightly increased to 913. The total number of recoveries went up to 33 972, increasing by 19 recoveries. The recovery rate now stands at 93.4%. A total of 118 frontline workers were vaccinated, bringing the cumulative number of the vaccinated to 36 019. The death toll went up to 1 492.
We note that Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Romania, Bulgaria, Thailand and South Africa have stopped use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. We note that the WHO and EU jointly with France and Germany, have reiterated their support of the AstraZeneca vaccine. In the midst of the series of vaccine stoppages and in face of real geopolitical issues arising from vaccine choices, we call upon the Government of Zimbabwe, which has a mandate to protect citizens through the Zimbabwean scientific body, the National Immunisation Advisory Group (NITAG) to give their assessment of the same vaccine in the public domain.
We call for transparency on the process of securing the same vaccine for Zimbabwe to update the nation on where Zimbabwe is in regards to AstraZeneca particularly as this was the first vaccine to be locally assessed and was the first vaccine to guide the vaccine roll-out program.
Critical emerging issue
Accountability for COVID-19 Funding and Vaccines
We note our ongoing concern regarding the weak accountability for COVID-19 funds in Zimbabwe. We note with alarm the recent disclosure that Treasury has entered into a debt agreement with the Arab Economic bank for USD 10 million to respond to COVID-19. This is untenable. Whilst we are fully aware that the response has been financed by a mix of direct government budgetary expenditure, donations from development partners, the private sector and communities, we remain concerned at the accountability measures provided by all who contributed to the national response to COVID-19. We have raised repeatedly discrepancies in the public domain regarding the funding by Treasury to COVID-19 research, response and vaccines. We remain alarmed that despite the best efforts of individual Members of Parliament and some Committee of Parliament to seek clarifications on Treasury funds, the response remains grossly inadequate and dismal.
- We, therefore, call for a comprehensive public accounting of the state funding support towards the COVID-19 Pandemic.
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 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe