422 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 23rd May 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 38 696 after 14 new cases were reported, all are local cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 23rd of May 2021 were 21 hospitalised cases, 2 asymptomatic cases, 10 mild to moderate cases, 6 severe cases and 3 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases go down to 639. The total number of recoveries went up to 36 471 increasing by 18 recoveries. The recovery rate still remains at 94.2%. A total of 1 139 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 633 635. A total of 2 749 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 281 286. The death toll still stands at 1 586.
We are concerned with the growing trend of selective application of the law as far as public gatherings are concerned. We note that the public figures, government officials and the country’s leadership continue to disregard COVID-19 regulations and safety protocols for their own convenience. Online videos showing a huge gathering in Harare today, ( where no physical distancing was practised) negate the very intention of the COVID-19 regulations and public health guidelines. The lack of seriousness and commitment on the part of the authorities in adhering to COVID-19 Regulations will be the fundamental determinant on whether or not Zimbabwe plunges into the 3rd wave .
- We therefore urge the Government of Zimbabwe and the country’s leadership, to practice what they preach by faithfully adhering to the COVID-19 regulations and safety protocols.
- We remind the Zimbabwe Republic Police that no one is above the law, and hence urge the uniform application of the law on all citizens of Zimbabwe, regardless of colour, status and political standing.
Critical emerging issue
Shortage of vaccines
We highlight reports of the shortage of COVID-19 vaccine at various vaccination centres across the country. We highlight the significant set-back such shortages have on both the global vaccination program within Zimbabwe, and the efforts within communities to support increased uptake of vaccines. We note with concern reports of citizens who have been turned away due to shortage of the first doses of the vaccine at vaccine centres inoculation centres.
Compounded against this, are reports of short supplies of the second dose of the vaccine which threatens to hamper effort made by citizens who already began their vaccine journeys.
The gravity of the shortage vaccines, with the threat of the third wave of COVID-19, driven by winter seasons, compounded by the super-spreader which have now become the order of the day, and the presence of the Indian variant, becomes a critical matter which require immediate and urgent attention.
- We call for urgent operational measures to ensure that large vaccine centres with greater numbers of persons getting vaccinated are supported with doses from lower number vaccine centres.
- We call for accountability from Treasury directly which has repeatedly assured citizens that the supplies of vaccines have been supported by both increased uptake of international debt and budget surpluses and monthly procurement to explain this discrepancy.
- We continue to call for an expansion of the vaccines mix available in Zimbabwe to support the vaccine programme.
Substantive Leadership in Critical Ministry of Health and Child Care Posts
We highlight reports that 5 major hospitals in Zimbabwe have been operating for over a year without substantive chief executive officers (CEOs). This is compounded by the continuing usage of Acting Directors in various departments in the Ministry of Health and Child Care. We continue to decry the delayed resolution of the Ministry restructuring exercise which was purported to enhance operational efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.
- We urge the immediate substantive appointments to fill in the vacant positions within the Ministry of Health and Child Care, which includes other senior positions of technical leadership of the Ministry.
- We urge prompt replacements for the 5 hospital CEOs.
- We further call for the respect of gender parity in all appointments.
- We continue to call for the appointment of gender experts at all levels of the COVID-19 response taskforce teams.
Reduced use of Masks
Our monitoring reports continue to indicate that communities are increasingly disregarding the use of masks. This has been increased in markets, economic activity areas and public transport transit points where citizens continue to move around without properly wearing masks, with noses exposed and, in some instances, outrightly wearing masks on their chins.
- We urge communities and citizens to follow the proper use of masks.
- We urge communities to overcome COVID-19 fatigue as we enter the cold seasons and ensure strict compliance with the public health guidelines, in their day to day lives.
- We urge the Government to step up efforts to combat COVID-19 fatigue as infections continue to increase and as the cold season is upon us to avoid a third wave.
- We further urge the Ministry of Health and Childcare, the media and stakeholders to widely disseminate information and intensify awareness raising.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)