368 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 1 April 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 36 882 after 24 new cases were reported, all are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 8 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as of 1500hrs on the 31st of March 2021 went down to 43 hospitalised cases, 9 asymptomatic cases, 20 mild to moderate cases, 11 severe cases and 3 cases Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 673. The total number of recoveries went up to 34 646, increasing by 50 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 94%. A total of 4 051people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 76 995. A total of 1 963 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 14 885. The death toll now stands at 1 523 after 2 new deaths were recorded.
Critical emerging issue
Containment of COVID-19 infections during the Easter break
We note the extensive regulations set in place to reduce opportunities for the potential spread of infection during the upcoming Easter-Break. We note regulation pertaining to the reduction of inter-provincial travel in regards to learners staying within Boarding Schools during the Easter break, which is a cause for distress in families and communities. We urge for practical measures to ensure that centres of learning, do not become platforms for the spread of COVID-19 infections due to inadequate water and sanitisation support or inadequate social distancing infrastructure.
- We urge the expansion of mass community-based testing to support track and trace systems for strong infection control.
- We urge the monitoring of public transport services to ensure they adhere to strict COVID-19 guidelines.
- We urge the Government to expedite the delivery of water and sanitation infrastructure support to schools.
- We call upon the deployment of social welfare officers to inspect schools and support teachers and schooling staff to support learners who may be in psychological distress.
- We continue to call for mental health support to citizens to be make practically accessible to communities.
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 ongoing 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 an adequate supply of oxygen at most health institutions.
- We call for measures to ensure adequate and consistently supplies of clinical oxygen to the public health sector.
- We call for urgent measures to address the need for increased supply of COVID-19 prior the anticipated third wave.
Gender lens national COVID-19 response and recovery
We continue to urge gender equality and women 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 with in the COVID-19 recovery path. Not only is this important for the achievement of gender equality and democracy, but gender machineries and women’s organizations also work closely with communities and therefore possess unparalleled knowledge and experience on 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 gender lens 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe