418 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 20 May 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 38 635 after 23 new cases were reported, all are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare which had 9 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 19th of May 2021 was as follows: 27 hospitalised cases, 3 asymptomatic cases, 19 mild to moderate cases, 4 severe cases, and 1 case in Intensive Care Unit. We highlight the provinces that did not report hospitalisation rates today namely Masvingo, Midlands, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Manicaland, in Harare province Arundel, St Anne’s and Wilkins. Active cases go down to 623. The total number of recoveries went up to 36 427 increasing by 11 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 94.3%. A total 9 740 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 615 296. A total of 12 972 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 252 100. The death toll now stands at 1 585 after 2 new deaths were recorded.
We note the further, the announcement of a localised lockdown in KweKwe in response to the confirmation, tracking and tracing of the B.1.617 variant (India Variant) of COVID-19 in the Midlands. We call upon all communities in and around the Midlands to support the lockdown efforts in Kwekwe. We call for intensification of supplies and operational readiness to communities in Kwekwe and surrounding communities.
Critical emerging issue
Incentives for Workers to Increase Vaccine Uptake
We fully acknowledge and support the efforts to increase the uptake of the vaccines. We are fully cognisant of the need to support vaccination and ensure that the risks associated with non-communities is reduced as significantly as possible. However, we remain concerned by the rise of incentives and the pressure that job seekers/workers face in work which is being linked to vaccination status. We highlight with grave concern by reports of companies that are offering either monetary or non-monetary benefits as an incentive for workers to get vaccinated. We highlight with grave concern the implications of such incentives to the rights of workers.
- We therefore highlight that while 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 tackling the scourge of fake news, but also includes directly responding to issues pertaining to the vaccine mix available for citizens to select, and the quality of the post vaccination monitoring and care available
Policy Maker vigilance
Noting that as the vaccination drive goes past the 600 000 thousand mark, the rise of variants and the efficacy of existing variants to the vaccines becomes a critical issue for Zimbabwe. Taking note further of difficulties in Seychelles where currently, there is a wave of COVID infections despite an over 90% vaccination rate – with a vaccine mix similar to that of Zimbabwe.
- We therefore urge vigilance and readiness to the context of Zimbabwe in addressing COVID-19 by policymakers and critical implementing agencies in the Zimbabwe COVID-19 Response plan.
Prevalence of B.1.617 (India variant) in Zimbabwe
We note the announcement of the localised outbreak in Kwekwe confirming that the COVID-19 variant B.1.617 pre-dominantly found in India, has become prevalent in Zimbabwe. We note further the measures applied in response to this, which include a mandatory quarantine period for all travellers from India for 10days post arrival. We note that travellers will be required to have a PCR test certificate which was issued at least 48 hours prior to their arrival in Zimbabwe.
- We reinforce calls for vigilance in community mass testing systems.
- We urge expansion of the tracing teams to ensure stronger community surveillance.
- We further call for the increase of Oxygen supplies and operational readiness to ensure focused support to provinces that report prevalence of the variant.
- We urge amplification of messages to ensure communities respect the Anti-COVID-19 prevention measures.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)