362 days of the COVID-19 lockdown, and as of 25 March 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 36 778, after 29 new cases were reported. 27 are local cases and 2 cases are returnees. The highest case tally was recorded in Masvingo with 9 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as of 1500hrs on the 24th of March 2021 went up to 55 hospitalised cases, 18 asymptomatic cases, 15 mild to moderate cases, 18 severe cases and 4 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 705. The total number of recoveries went up to 34 555, increasing by 79 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 93.8%. A total of 5 488 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. 1 606 second dose recipients bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 4095. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 54 892. The death toll went up to 1 518, after 2 new deaths were recorded.
Critical emerging issues
We highlight the World Food Program, Zimbabwe Food Security Monitoring Report for February 2021.
The report shows the increased number of people experiencing insufficient food consumption at 5.6 million during the last week of February, indicating an increase of 500,000 people since January. Whilst we acknowledge the general decrease in inflation and note the continued reduction of Food inflation which decreased from 369% in January to 359% in February 2021, we continue to highlight that food prices are beyond the capacity of most households to support their food needs.
We accordingly highlight that for the same period, prices in bond notes payments for the basic food items monitored increased by an average of 8% compared to January 2021, with the highest increase recorded for maize grain at an average of 15%. As the same time, prices in USD increased for the basic food items monitored by an average of 5% compared to January 2021, with highest price increases reported for maize grain (9%) and sugar bean prices remained stable.
- We continue to call upon Government to support access to food for households facing hunger.
- We call upon expanded social protection measures to address food insecurity beyond the cash transfer grants presently being offered at USD $17.
COVID-19 public health guidelines
We are dismayed by the demonstrated complacency by citizens, including pupils, in adhering to COVID-19 public health guidelines and safety measures, particularly on face-masks and physical distancing. We urge school authorities, Government and citizens at large to continue to undertake significant steps to support infection control and minimisation of exposure to the virus. In light of this, we call for measures that will aggressively compliment potential vaccine deployment and rescue the Nation from the possibility of a third wave of infections.
- We call for concerted efforts to decongest authorised public transport.
- We call for strict compliance with sanitation measures on public transport services.
- In light of schools’ resumption of operations, we call for strengthened support to education centres and schools to access adequate water and sanitation services in light of the recent re-opening of physically schooling.
- We recommend expanded community testing to ensure adequate testing and tracing regardless of the on-boarding of vaccines.
- We urge support for the establishment and sustenance of community-based isolation centres to alleviate the hardships of families and communities that cannot self-isolate.
- We urge supermarkets and retailers to enhance in-store monitoring and increased management of physical distancing at pay points and exists.
Decrease in COVID-19 mass testing
We note a decrease in the number of tests currently being undertaken on a daily basis, especially in light of the vaccine roll-out currently underway. Whilst we acknowledge and celebrate the persistent reduction in COVID-19 cases we remain concerned about the need to strengthen vigilance on infection control at community level. We draw attention to congested public spaces such as government service centres for transport, documentation, agriculture and other public services. We remain concerned at weak adherence to social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing in retail centres and community social events. The up-coming Easter holidays are a real risk. Whilst we acknowledge efforts, as announced by Cabinet, to retain control on COVID-19 infections for both domestic and international transmission cases, we remain concerned about the lack of real changes in how communities travel, engage and engage in day-to-day activities.
We continue to emphasize the need for an advanced test strategy which 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 roll out.
- 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