Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 375 – WCoZ Situation Report

375 days of the COVID-19 lockdown, and as of 7 April 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported  that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 36 984 after 18 new cases were reported,  all are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Masvingo with 6 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as of 1500hrs on the 6th of April 2021 went up to 26 hospitalised cases, 6 asymptomatic  cases, 9 mild to moderate cases, 8 severe cases and 3 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went up to  650. The total number of recoveries went up to 34 803, increasing by 23 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 94%. A total of 14 105 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 153 238. A total of 2 679 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 26 179. The death toll remains at 1 531 after 6 deaths were recorded. 

We note the cancellation of the June Exam by ZIMSEC. We appreciate the acknowledgment of the deficits caused by a disruption in the education calendar as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to raise concern however on the late announcement of this cancellation. The inability to appropriately forecast and announce shifts in regards to education calendars raises undue anxiety in learners who have been participating in various catch-up programs with fear of failure causing distress.  We highlight the traumatic impact of stress on young persons and call for administrative matters that are responsive to the context of young persons. 

Critical emerging issue 

Social protection measures 

We continue to amplify our concern that the majority of women in Zimbabwe and women-led households are facing the biggest impact in food security, income loss, and care-giving burdens. We emphasize the need for prioritization of women’s access to social safety nets during COVID-19. While noting the announcement regarding the increase for the amount to be distributed to beneficiaries of the Cash Transfer System for vulnerable persons in COVID-19 from ZWL $300 to ZWL $1 500, we are concerned that the disbursements have not yet been distributed to beneficiaries. 

We continue to recommend that Government announces the direct distribution of basic commodities and  food in communities similar to the subsidized mealie meal distribution program.  

  • We recommend the expedition of the distribution of cash transfers to beneficiaries. 
  • We call for the adequate funding of National Social Protection Policy Framework.
  • We therefore urge Government to expand social safety nets and offset economic impacts for COVID-19. 
  • We reinforce our calls for the provision of support for households who are no longer able to sustain themselves due to loss of livelihoods, especially women-led households.

Outstanding issues 

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 6th of April, 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 the 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 to expedite the monitoring and reporting systems to maintain data quality and integrity. 

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 rollout 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 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 efforts, as announced by Cabinet, to retain control of COVID-19 infections for both domestic and international transmission cases, we remain concerned about the lack of real change in how communities travel 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 rollout. 
  • 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