Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 402 – WCoZ Situation Report

402 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 4 May 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 38 327 after 34 new cases were reported, all are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Matebeleland South which had 11 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 3 May 2021 were 13 hospitalised cases, 0 asymptomatic case, 10 mild to moderate cases, 0 severe cases and 3 cases Intensive Care Units. We highlight gaps in provinces that did not report hospitalisation rates today namely Midlands, Masvingo, Mashonaland Central Mashonaland West and UBH in Bulawayo. Active cases went down to 978.

Whilst we commend the downward trajectory of the active cases of COVID-19 however we continue to critique this trend in absence of consistency in data reporting.

The total number of recoveries went up to 35 775, increasing by 128 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 93%.  A total of14 440 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 452 191. A total of 7 828 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 107 586. The death toll goes up to 1 574 after 1 death was recorded.

We highlight the alarm raised by the WHO on Africa and the COVID-19 pandemic at this stage. We highlight that WHO having reviewed the COVID-19 pandemic in 46 countries raises critical issues for Zimbabwe’s urgent attention. We highlight that the expansion of relaxation measures, combined with poor adherence to COVID-19 public health measures are a mix that threatens a resurgence of the virus especially against a background of low vaccination rates, the rise of variants in Eastern and Southern Africa, significant under-testing and under-reporting.

We buttress the WHO position that, the rates of COVID-19 in Africa are grossly understated. We note the concern raised by the WHO on 36 countries testing running less than 10 tests for every 100 000 persons. We are fully aware that Zimbabwe is gripped by COVID-19 fatigue at all levels, policy makers, communities, and the essential frontline service sectors. Indeed, we also acknowledge that it is financially cheaper to invest in vaccine procurement and administration as opposed to seeking to enhance testing and tracing capacity in the country. However, in light of the conditions on the ground, the missing data on the prevalence of new mutations and variants and the low rate of vaccination the risk of the resurgence of COVID-19 must be addressed concretely as such risks may completely undermine the collective efforts taken over the past 400 days to address the pandemic locally.

We continue to highlight that WHO has noted with concern that most of the new COVID-19 infections “are still not being detected among known contacts,” which is supported by reports from community members. We highlight the community experiences are supportive of the WHO findings that “Investigation of clusters of cases and contact tracing are worryingly low in most countries in the region. We must scale up testing including through rapid diagnostic tests to enhance response to the pandemic,”

Therefore, as we commend the capacity building and training of Provincial Education and Health focal teams to ensure effective COVID-19 response in schools, we continue to call for strengthening operations, in particular the testing and tracing capacity of healthcare staff in non-metropolitan provinces.

We continue to call for mass expansion of non-static vaccination programs, and for the vaccines to be administered in socio-economic community centres as opposed to health centres.

Critical emerging issue

The importance of sustained Testing and Tracing for 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 enable early detection and the need to test and trace infections at schools as evidenced by taskforces tracing actions over the past weeks in Matabeleland. However, we continue to be concerned by 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 underscore that a high rate of mass community  testing and trace surveillance system is a critical element for effective COVID-19 control.

  • We urge Government to upscale community testing by ensuring mobile testing is undertaken in communities
  • We call for prioritization of the testing and tracing whilst vaccination is on-going.

Outstanding issue

Vaccine Mix

We continue to raise concerns regarding the available vaccine mix in Zimbabwe. We continue to question the procurement of vaccines which currently does not include PfizerBiotech, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines. Whilst we fully acknowledge that vaccine procurement will be guided by the cold storage chain that Zimbabwe can sustain, thereby effectively minimising the chances of the PfizerBiotech and Moderna vaccines within viability for mass vaccination in Zimbabwe, we will continue to challenge the lack of availability of such vaccines which have received WHO Emergency Use Authorisation versus vaccines whose WHO Emergency Use authorisation is still outstanding. We note that vaccines availability in Zimbabwe was due to be supported by the COVAX facility which has not materialised thus far.

  • We raise the point of vaccine equity, in that with the right set of accurate information, all citizens have the right to choose which vaccine they prefer to receive. Accordingly, we continue to raise the point that citizens have a right to select which vaccines are best for them, including even during vaccine procurement which can be ably guided by the local scientific community.
  • We continue to question why several of the local vaccines are yet to secure WHO Emergency Use clearance.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)

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