Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 364 – WCoZ Situation Report

364 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 27 March 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 36 818 after 13 new cases were reported. All are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Bulawayo with 4 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as of 1500hrs on the 26th of March 2021 went down to 33 hospitalised cases, 14 asymptomatic cases, 16 mild to moderate cases, 1 severe case and 2 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went up to 724. The total number of recoveries went up to 34 575, increasing by 3 recoveries. The recovery rate goes up to 93.9%. A total of 7 965 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. 1 396 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nddose recipients to 7 965. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 65 466. The death toll goes up to 1 519 after 1 new death was recorded.

Critical emerging issue

Oxygen Supplies for COVID-19

Well aware that the increased need for clinical oxygen in Zimbabwe is similar to that in many other countries that have seen a marked increase of clinical oxygen in order to support COVID-19 treatment and management, we raise awareness at on-going inconsistent supplies and limited availability of clinical oxygen in the country.

We note adaptive measures being reported by health institutions that are now resorting to utilising electric oxygen concentrators in a bid to stem the gaps caused by clinical oxygen to support patient care.

We highlight reports by the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association which marked the increased demand for oxygen against a supply of oxygen that has been constant at pre-COVID-19 rates.

  • We call on a concerted effort by Government to urgently intervene and put measures in place to ensure adequate supply of oxygen as most health institutions.
  • We call for measures to ensure adequate and consistent supplies of clinical oxygen to the public health sector.
  • We call for urgent measures to address the need for increased supply of oxygen prior to the anticipated third wave.

Gender lens national COVID-19 response and recovery

We continue to urge gender equality and women’s representation in COVID-19 response structures. We emphasize that the impacts of COVID-19 have been neither gender blind nor gender neutral, and that women have taken the hardest hit. Therefore, they should be allowed the space to be architects of their own solutions.

We stress that women’s leadership, experiences and perspective are fundamental to the development of a gender-lens response and recovery. Participation and equal representation of women, as provided in Zimbabwe’s policy and legislative framework cannot be dispensed within the COVID-19 recovery path. Not only is this important for the achievement of gender equality and democracy, gender machineries and women’s organizations work closely with communities and therefore possess unapparelled knowledge and experience of the challenges women are facing on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, they constitute the voice of authority when it comes to the design and implementation of a gender lens to recovery strategies.

We therefore recommend:

  • As a starting point, more women including women’s rights organisations should form part of the steering committees for COVID-19 response Coordination, such as the COVID-19 National Taskforce.
  • The Zimbabwe Gender Commission, to push for accountability to equal gender representation and balance in such key Committees, as envisaged by sections 17 and 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
  • Urgent publicization 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.

Vaccine Mix

We note the announcement by the Government of Zimbabwe regarding the arrival of 70 000 doses of COVID-19 CovoVax vaccines from India which are a donation from the Government of India which will arrive in Zimbabwe on the evening of Monday the 29th of March 2021.

  • We continue to monitor the vaccine mix available in Zimbabwe and encourage the Government to ensure a wide vaccine mix to support vaccine uptake.
  • We continue to call for the COVID-19 Inter ministerial committee on Monitoring of Vaccines to report to the public the status of those who have been vaccinated to support wider knowledge on the response to vaccines.

Outstanding issue

Food Security

We continue to 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 note 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%. At the same time, prices in USD increased for the basic food items monitored by an average of 5% compared to January 2021, with the 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.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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