Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 375 – WCoZ Situation Report

374 days of the COVID-19 lockdown, and as of 6 April 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 36 966 after 32 new cases were reported. All are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Bulawayo with 17 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as of 1500hrs on the 5th of April 2021 went up to 18 hospitalised cases, 0 asymptomatic  cases, 7 mild to moderate cases, 9 severe cases and 2 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went up to  654. The total number of recoveries went up to 34 242, increasing by 23 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 94%. A total of 15 133 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 139 133. A total of 1 444 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 23 500. The death toll remain at 1 531 after 6 new deaths were recorded. 

Data quality and integrity  

We are concerned by matters arising creating gaps in reporting and data from hospitals in various provinces. We note that hospitals in Midlands and Masvingo did not provide reports on hospitalisation data for the 5th of April 2021. We note further that the record of the total 6 deaths reported on 6th April, was broken down as follows: 2 deaths from the last 24 hours, 1 death from 1st of April and 3 deaths from the 3rd of April, thus suggesting delays and backlog in data collection and reporting. 

We are further concerned by the discrepancy regarding the number of recoveries, noting that the daily Government update of the 5th of April 2021 reported 34 758, while total number of recoveries reported on the 6th of April 2021 is 34 242. These inaccuracies are problematic and thus the drastic reduction in recovered cases or the inaccuracy must be explained.  

  • We therefore call on the Ministry of Health and Child Care are to expedite the monitoring and reporting systems to maintain data quality and integrity. 

Critical emerging issue 

Decrease in COVID-19 mass testing 

We note a decrease in the number 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 at the need to strengthen vigilance on infection control at the community level. We draw attention to congested public spaces such a 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 upcoming Easter holidays are a real risk. Whilst we acknowledge effort 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 that 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. 

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 USD10 million to respond to COVID-19. Further, the conflicting statements by the Ministry of Finance regarding the marshalling of USD100 million to support anti-COVID-19 efforts. 

We remain concerned about the accountability measures provided in relation to the contributions to the COVID-19 national response. 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 Committees of Parliament, to seek clarifications on Treasury funds, the response remains grossly inadequate and dismal.  
  • We therefore urge a comprehensive public accounting of the state funding support towards the  COVID-19 pandemic. 

Outstanding issue 

Platform for reporting COVID-19 vaccine side effects 

We commend the creation of a rapid reporting platform for members of the public to report side effects of  COVID-19 side effects by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ). 

  • We welcome this operational mechanism to substantiate a tracking and monitoring system in Government to ensure citizens may easily share side effects they may have experienced after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This would address rising concerns in the public of side effects being discussed and reported in the public by those vaccinated. 
  • We note that the MCAZ platform is available online at http://e-pv.mcaz.co.zw or via download of the MCAZ app on Android or iOS. 
  • We urge accessibility of the rapid reporting platform for all sections of society including rural and digitally-limited communities.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe