Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 403 – WCoZ Situation Report

403 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 5 May 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 38 357 after 30 new cases were reported, all are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Matebeleland North which had 14 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 4th of May 2021 were 27 hospitalised cases, 4 asymptomatic case, 16 mild to moderate cases, 3 severe cases and 4 cases Intensive Care Units. We highlight gaps in provinces that did not report hospitalisation rates namely Midlands, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and UBH in Bulawayo. Active cases went down to 972. The total number of recoveries went up to 35 811, increasing by 36 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 93%.  A total of 8 832 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 461 023. A total of 7 624 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 115 210. The death toll remains at 1 574 after no new death was recorded.

We continue to highlight issues regarding consistency in reporting of the hospitalisation rates. We draw attention to the worrying trend of incomplete hospitalisation reports which in the daily reports fail to represent the true picture of the hospitalisation rate across the country. The persisting inconsistencies have significant ramifications as they not only affect data quality but the level of preparedness and capacity of the nation to respond to the surge. The health system data must be reliable consistently not only when there is a national spotlight. The efficiency and effectiveness of government systems must be maintained at all times, not only at crisis moments. In light of real concerns of potential surge in infections, this inconsistency cannot be ignored. There are real time implications of the readiness of the oxygen and COVID-19 treatment and management value chain which must be supported with the best most accurate information consistently.

  • We continue to draw the attention of the leadership of the National Inter Ministerial Team on COVID-19, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Parliament of Zimbabwe to the inconsistencies in reporting and data.
  • We continue to raise issues regarding the internal system in the health sector that are highlighted by the deficiencies in reportage
  • We highlight the increases in active cases that require the health system to gear up and be prepared for a potential rise in hospitalisation, including down-stream industries such as the oxygen supply sector which has persistently fallen behind in terms of supply.

Critical emerging issue

Sustained Engagement to Prevent Risk of Resurgence of COVID-19

We highlight the alarm raised by 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. 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 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 these 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. As such;

  • We urge sustained and 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 the 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.

Outstanding 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

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)

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