407 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 9 May 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 38 419 after 5 new cases were reported, all are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Bulawayo which had 5 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 8th of May 2021 were 12 hospitalised cases, 3 asymptomatic case, 7 mild to moderate cases, 1 severe case and 1 case Intensive Care Units. We highlight gaps in provinces that did not report hospitalisation rates namely Masvingo, Bulawayo, Midlands, Mashonaland East, and several hospitals in Harare excluding Health Point. Active cases remain at 780. The total number of recoveries went up to 36 063, increasing by 11 recoveries. The recovery rate goes up marginally at 93.9%. A total of 16 792 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 526 066. A total of 9 613 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 158 177. The death toll remains at 1 576 after no new death were recorded.
Critical emerging issue
Urban Families Facing Compounded Stress with Rise in Cost of Living.
We highlight ZIMSTAT reports indicating the financial and distress of most urban families in Zimbabwe who are anticipated to remain in financial doldrums due to skyrocketing cost of living. We note that the as at March 2021 the cost of living stood at ZWL$26 560 (US$320) for a family of five for March, which is higher than what the lowest paid civil servant earns at ZW$17 000 (US$205) per month. We highlight FEWS NET reports that raise that the skyrocketing cost of living is significant in a context where the majority of Zimbabwean earn their living in the informal sector. We highlight that families in urban communities are projected to remain stressed as poor households may meet their basic food needs but fail to meet their other non-food needs.
We highlight further that “Despite the progressive decline in annual inflation since mid-2020, the official inflation rate remains very high at 194% in April. This is driving a continuous increase to the cost of living, leaving a high proportion of the population subsisting below the poverty lines”. This is supported by the ZIMSTAT reports which indicated a 1,7% and 6,8% increase in the food poverty line and total consumption poverty lines, respectively, for April compared to March” Accordingly we draw attention of the Government that even as inflation declines the cost-of-living is actually increasing through fuel price increases and high parallel market exchange rates which continue to drive general price increases compounded by high and increasing transport fares which continue to negatively impact household access to markets. Accordingly, the reports notes that contrary to general economic perspectives the macro-economy was volatile negatively impacting household food access.
The Case of Seychelles for Policy Makers in Zimbabwe
We highlight the global focus being placed on Seychelles which has fully vaccinated over 60% of its population against COVID-19 yet is currently facing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and accordingly, is returning several restrictions in a bid to contain to contain the rise in infections. We highlight reports that indicating that the country has a population of 100,000 people recorded close to 500 new cases in the three days leading to 1 May. Statistics indicate that a third of the active cases involved people who had had two vaccine doses. More than four-fifths of the active cases were among Seychellois people, with the remainder made up of foreigners.
We highlight evidence showing that the Seychelles, began vaccinating its population in January 2021 using Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine doses donated by the United Arab Emirates. Further Furthermore, by mid-April 2021, about 60% of the vaccine doses administered in the country were Sinopharm, with the rest Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine doses. We accordingly highlight these issues for policy makers in Zimbabwe that the vaccine mix profile of the Seychelles is similar to Zimbabwe and further in respect of reports undertaken on those vaccines the following status is critical to bear in mind. That vaccines trials in in China and the United Arab Emirates have put Sinopharm vaccine efficacy at 79% and 86% respectively. Researchers in Brazil placed the efficacy of another Chinese-made vaccine also available in Zimbabwe Sinovac vaccine, at 50.4%.
We draw reference to reports that in April, China’s top disease control official said the efficacy of the country’s COVID-19 vaccines was low, although he later insisted his comments had been misinterpreted.
- We call for Policy makers in the National COVID-19 Taskforce to place vigilance on the reports emanating from the Seychelles
- We call for the Zimbabwe Scientific Community to provide regular updates on the implications for Zimbabwe in regards to the case of Seychelles in the upcoming weeks.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)