At Zimbabwe’s 41st Independence, the second year in which Independence is commemorated during the COVID-19 pandemic, 385 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 17 April 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 37 699 after 165 new cases were reported, all are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Manicaland with 122 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 16th of April 2021 went down to 34 hospitalised cases, 0 asymptomatic cases, 25 mild to moderate cases, 7 severe cases and 2 cases Intensive Care Units.
Active cases continue the upward trend by going up to 1 142. The total number of recoveries went up to 35 005, increasing by 24 recoveries. The recovery rate continues to though marginally to 92.9%. The recovery rate, accurately reported in the daily reports, however is being mischaracterised as going up or remaining steady, whilst in direct reference to the reports, the recovery rate, albeit marginally, is indeed dropping. A total of 6 363 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 276 099. A total of 837 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 35 005. The death toll goes up to 1 552 after 1 death was recorded.
Critical emerging issue
1. Outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools
We welcome the reiteration by Government that the COVID-19 surveillance system will be intensified and the commitment that learning institutions that fail to implement standard operating procedures facing immediate closure. We continue to monitor the outbreak and response mechanisms in place.
We highlight reports indicating 122 cases reported in Manicaland province which are largely made up of the COVID-19 outbreak traced to a boarding school, St David’s Bonda Mission.
We commend indeed the efforts made to test and trace the cases of COVID-19 thus far in Manicaland and the vigilance of testing teams on the ground as we also saw in the testing teams in Matabeleland South over the past week. We continue to salute the active and aggressive work of the provincial and district COVID-19 task-teams in Matabeleland South and Manicaland.
- We call for increased support to communities in accessing testing and tracking services.
- We call for increased support to community case care workers providing counselling services to support desperately traumatised communities and in particular young persons who remain sequestered in schools and other community facilities.
- We call for the provision of food and meals to the affected communities who are facing hunger in quarantine and isolation.
- We call for the provision of adequate and appropriate sanitary ware to young girls in quarantine and isolation
- We continue to request the National IMT on COVID-19 to task the other provinces to expand and strengthen their disease surveillance systems in particular to expand testing and tracking to rural communities and public boarding schools.
2. Independence Day COVID-19 Measures
We note the second Independence Day in which large scale gatherings and in person public addresses which have been hallmarks of the commemorations have also been cancelled. We note the extraordinary measures taken in our social and economic sphere by Government in a bid to reduce inter-provincial travel and stem the potential rise in cases over both the Easter Holidays and the Independence holidays.
We take particular note of the prohibition against learners in boarding schools not being able to travel home during this period and also not being able to receive visits from family members during this period. Essentially a period of confinement of students to schooling centres over key holidays in the national calendar. We note the trauma this has had on students, staff and families alike.
Whilst we appreciate the measures as they may relate to infection control we remain concerned at the limited support public and rural boarding schools are receiving to ensure that centres of learning do not become COVID-19 hotspots.
- We are concerned by the test and trace system in place to support the same communities in real time
- We call for support to persons operating the informal sector in food markets, clothing markets, informal community based manufacturing hubs and service areas. We call upon the on-going supervision and support safe COVID-19 protocols in these sectors to stem the potential for spreading of infections.
- We call for protecting the testing and tracing priority whilst vaccination is on-going.
- We are concerned by the limited and static nature of the vaccine program which is not connecting to where people are but rather heavily centralised and not mobile.
1. Spikes in Vaccine Uptake
We note a large number of persons receiving vaccines on the 16th of April, of 16 800, after a record of 21 300 people on the 15th of April, received their 1st dose vaccines. These large single day spikes are reflective of larger numbers of persons getting vaccines since inception of the program. We commend the public who have demonstrated their desire to take up vaccines as evidenced by the vaccines boosts during the Easter and Independence holiday breaks. We commend frontline workers who are undertaking the mammoth task of manning and running vaccines centres at such a time and under very difficult conditions.
We continue to highlight however, the need to increased uptake of vaccination to meet national targets.
The numbers of vaccines administered must continue to increase on a day-to-day basis to ensure that the targets set by the Zimbabwean government are met by the same Government in implementation of the National Vaccines strategy.
- We note further that the number of second dose vaccines today also were a record of over 2000 people.
- We continue to call for the release of demographics on the vaccinated population
- We continue to call for reports on the monitoring of persons who have been vaccinated.
- We call for an expansion of real time measures to make post vaccines enquiries and information easily available to all citizens.
- We continue to call for easy access to verifiable and secure COVID-19 vaccination cards.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe