398 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 30 April 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 38 257 after 22 new cases were reported, all are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare which had 7 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 29th of April 2021 went down to 33 hospitalised cases, 13 asymptomatic case, 12 mild to moderate cases, 6 severe cases and 2 cases Intensive Care Units. We highlight gaps in provinces that did not report hospitalisation rates namely Midlands, Mashonaland West, Masvingo and UBH in Bulawayo.
Active cases went up to 1 078. The total number of recoveries went up to 35 612, increasing by 18 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 93%. A total of 13 964 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 414 735. A total of 8 781 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 85 607. The death toll remains at 1 567 after no new deaths were recorded.
We fully acknowledge and support the critical relationship and engagements between the Government and the private sector in escalating the provision of vaccines. We commend further various efforts meant to expedite access to vaccines by the general populace. We however continue to spotlight the risks of privatisation of vaccines. We highlight that vaccines are a critical essential lifesaving intervention which must be provided to all. Vaccine equity is therefore not only a matter of equitable access between nation states but also among citizens within a country, hence the critical need to ensure such equitable public access. Further, we continue to critique the pressure that workers in both the public service and the private sector are facing the “soft pressure” to get vaccinated in a bid to secure their work status. We raise concerns of reports of workers who have been told that they are free to choose either to be vaccinated or not, but essentially their working status or roles require them to take up the vaccine. Whilst citizens are indeed to be encouraged to get vaccinated, a “Jabs for Jobs” policy is completely untenable. We remind both the Government and Private sector that encouragement to get vaccinated goes beyond simply addressing the scourge of fake news, but also includes directly issues pertaining to the vaccine mix available for citizens to select and also the quality of the post vaccination monitoring and care available.
Critical emerging issues
1. Recognition of the Role of Workers in Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis of Care
This May Day, we highlight the role of essential service workers and workers at large in responding to the multi-layered crises spotlighted by the COVID-19. In particular, we highlight the deficiencies and thenegative economic costs of state system that do not have the capacity to address the multi-layered trauma, nation-wide that is created, facilitated, and exposed by both natural and man-made crises including the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whilst the pandemic itself was indeed not fully anticipated, the question of the inability of state systems to respond to the socio-economic stresses raised by crises remains on the table of government. This responsibility has been made graver by the undermining of the role of workers within critical services arms of the state. Essential service workers, delivering critical services in health, education, social welfare and water and sanitation have been persistently de-prioritised and undermined as they acquit the critical care work which continues to be unrecognised, unrewarded, and unsupported.
- This May Day we continue to call upon Government to fully address the conditions of service of all workers and critically to invest in addressing the crises of poor health, education and social welfare system that unnecessarily undermine all socio-economic and political efforts directed and securing the rights of citizens sustainably.
2. Establishment of COVID-19 Virtual Hospital
We highlight the limitations of the Zimbabwe’s health sector which have been laid excruciatingly bare, by the COVID-19 pandemic. We note that the treatment and management of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe has largely been outsourced to individuals and in particular to women in communities, who have borne the burden of supporting the treatment and management of COVID-19 at home with limited or non-existent state health support throughout the duration of the pandemic.
We therefore place a spotlight on the announcement by Government of the Establishment of the Virtual Hospital which will provide virtual support to the patients with COVID-19 being treated and assisted by heath officials at home to cover an estimate of 10 000 to 20 000 home-based beds.
- As we await the revelation of the virtual hospital plans, we will continue to call upon the Government to ensure that rural communities are directly supported to access these care facilities and that home based care is resourced by the state.
- We will continue to urge Government to reveal economic measures to relive the pressures of households bearing the costs of the pandemic and sting the capacity of households to recover economically.
3. Slow pace of vaccination
Whilst we commend the vaccination of over four hundred thousand people, we continue to decry the slow pace of vaccination. We continue to point out that vaccination remains under 10% of the target vaccine population.
- We amplify our call for expansion of vaccine centres to include mobile vaccination facilities and vaccines outpost at mass economic and social centres such as markets.
- We recommend a vaccine outreach program that draws access to vaccines closer to communities.
1. Challenges with Testing of COVID-19
We commend the actions of provincial taskforce teams testing schools for COVID-19 as per their SOPs. We note that these critical interfaces can detect early the need to test and trace infections at schools as evidenced by the Matabeleland North teams tracing actions over the past two days.
However, we highlight concerns over the low levels of testing and access to tests in non-metropolitan provinces. We continue to question the reach of community surveillance systems in the midst of reports of limited access to PCR tests and delays in deliveries of Antigen Tests.
We warn that a high rate of mass community is a critical element of testing and trace surveillance system for effective COVID-19 control.
- We urge Government to upscale community testing by ensuring mobile testing is undertaken in communities
- We call for protecting the testing and tracing priority whilst vaccination is on-going.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe