391 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 23 April 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 38 045 after 27 new cases were reported, all are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Matabeleland North which had 18 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 22nd of April 2021 went down to 51 hospitalised cases, 1 asymptomatic case, 37 mild to moderate cases, 10 severe cases and 3 cases Intensive Care Units. Active cases went up to 1 395. The total number of recoveries went up to 35 094, increasing by 21 recoveries. The recovery rate still stands at 92.9%. A total of 11 661 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 319 732. A total of 2 525 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 46 243. The death toll still stands at 1 556 as no death was recorded.
Critical emerging issue
1. Vigilance through COVID-19 mass testing
We draw attention to concerns regarding the decreased levels of mass community testing being undertaken daily, especially considering the Vaccine Roll-out currently underway.
Whilst we acknowledge and celebrate the vaccine uptake by citizens, we remain concerned at the need to strengthen vigilance on infection control at community level. We remain concerned at rural and public schooling communities who have had to pay for their own COVID-19 tests. We reiterate that exorbitant test costs of USD$60, reduces the efficacy of the surveillance system to test for prevalence of COVID-19 in rural communities and in public schools. We continue to emphasize on the need for an advanced test strategy which 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 call for expanded testing in rural communities and public boarding schools
- We call for reduction of costs of tests for communities identified for surveillance to expand the number of persons able to access tests.
1. Transparency and Accountability in COVID-19 Financing and Vaccines Procurement
We highlight once more serious matters arising from reports indicating the side-lining of Parliament and the violation of the Constitution on provisions for debt in Zimbabwe in the context of COVID-19 vaccine sourcing.
We highlight the reports indicating that despite the recurring affirmations by the Government of the availability of USD$100 million national budget surplus, the Government continues to incur debt to support the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines from China. We are concerned with reports indicating that Government has engaged with Afrexibank without prior engagement of Parliament and has now secured a USD$50 million loan to support COVID-19 Vaccine procurement. This action comes against the disclosure by Treasury, in March 2021 to Parliament that, again, without prior engagement of Parliament, that it had secured a USD$10million loan to support vaccines procurement with the Arab Economic bank for USD10million to respond to COVID-19. This is untenable.
Whilst we are fully aware that the response has been financed by a mix of direct government budgetary expenditure, donations from development partners, the private sector, and communities, we remain concerned at the accountability measures provided by all who contributed to the national response to COVID-19. We have repeatedly raised 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 Committee of Parliament, to seek clarifications on Treasury funds, the response remains grossly inadequate and dismal. We therefore urge publicization of the following:
- A comprehensive public accounting of the state funding support towards the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- A complete accounting for the support provided by international partners.
- A thorough report on the expenditure of the contribution by the private sector, communities, and individuals.
- We call for the President of Zimbabwe to institute a Commission of Enquiry into COVID-19 Funds.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe