Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 459 – WCoZ Situation Report

459 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 30th  of June 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 49 864 after 1 249 new cases were reported, all local. The highest case tally was recorded in Mashonaland West with 371 cases. The hotspots updates are as follows; Mashonaland West Province- Kariba (45), Karoi (20), Chinhoyi (73), Magunje (16), Chidamoyo (20), Mashonaland Central – Centenary (28), Mashonaland East-Marondera (27), Masvingo Province- Chiredzi (98),  Mwenezi (18).  We note the absence of a Masvingo district update, Midlands – Zvishavane (17) we note the continued absence of Kwekwe update, Bulawayo Province – Nkulumane (16), Emakhandeni (25) and Northern Suburbs (101).

We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 29th of June 2021 was 363 hospitalised cases:  58 New Admissions, 70 Asymptomatic cases, 234 mild to moderate cases, 48 severe cases and 11 cases in Intensive Care Units. We note that Matebeleland South, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central did not report on hospitalised cases. 

Active cases went up to 8 954. The total number of recoveries went up to 39 121 increasing by 798 recoveries. The recovery rate went down further, from 79% to 78%. A total of 6 452 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 777 161.  A total of 10 389 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 555 277. The death toll went up to 1 789 after 28 new deaths were recorded.

We highlight that this recovery rate percentage has dropped a total of points since 1 June 2021 where it was holding at 98%. It has been dropping steadily throughout the month, as both new infections and fatalities rise to the present 78%, hence marking a significant drop of 20% in total within a month.

We highlight the new recorded deaths as 28 deaths which represent the highest single day loss of life recorded to COVID-19. Our sympathies are with the bereaved families and friends. We call upon the government to make significant changes in the management of both the treatment and COVID-19 and also the vaccination program to save lives now.

Critical emerging issues

Congestion During Peak Hour and in Public Transport

We highlight the effect of the lockdown measures on congestion in central business districts in all of the ten provinces. We note with grave concern that the reduced working hours have merely shifted the peak hours for travel and movement without the critical service sectors supporting the shifts in the time tables. We highlight further the effect of the police enforcement guidelines notified to the general public regarding the de-facto banning of non ZUPCO public transport operators meaning that the overburdened state-owned public transport operator has increased demand on its services without any measures to match its capacity. We note that this has resulted in congestion during critical hours before curfew begins. This makes the entire point of COVID-19 infection control mute as people are hard pressed in crowds along transport nodes to catch a ride in limited seats in order to avoid the wrath of enforcement officers.

We highlight further the particular and extreme issues of sexual harassment and other sexual offences that women and girls are increasingly subjected to during such conditions with limited real time protection as the crowds surrounding transport nodes are equivalent to unruly and unguided mobs.

  • We urge for the expanded provision of well-marked ZUPCO buses and women-only designated buses during peak hours.
  • We urge for the changes in time-table to reflect the reality of those communising for both normal and adjusted lockdown hours with a view to manage infection control
  • We call for the increased enforcement of the COVID-19 measures within the bus, while in transit and  not only at inception points.

Public transport fare increases

We highlight the implications of 100% price increases of fares on the state-owned public transport operator which is enjoying a monopoly ring-fenced by COVID-19 lockdown measures.  We highlight that the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) is presently the only legal means to travel through a mass transit system in the lockdown.  We further note increased mobility needs by citizens during this lockdown as they look for means to protect their lives and livelihoods in the absence of any social protection plan by Government. We stress that there is no alternative  recourse for the masses of people who are forced to utilize the congested service in peri-urban rural and urban routes.

  • We call for a return to the original fares which are affordable to the majority of citizens.
  • We call for a full and public accounting of the state subsidy into ZUPCO for its hiring and procurement of buses, fuel and maintenance and other operational costs
  • We continue to critique in principle the restructuring of the public transport system during a pandemic without citizen consultation and during a pandemic.
  • We continue to call for a Commission of Enquiry into the Government Management of the COVID-19 response in Zimbabwe

Outstanding issues

Interventions on the High Costs of Testing for COVID-19

We highlight the reports and reality of the high costs of testing for COVID-19, in particular the PCR tests. We note the context presently include custodial sentences for travellers into Zimbabwe or leaving Zimbabwe who may present fake COVID-19 certificates. We note further, the rise of the infections, in hospitalisations and deaths of COVID-19 which require a re-prioritisation of the test and trace mechanisms.

We highlight the measures to support increased and accessible COVID-19 testing through the removal of customs duties for COVID-19 test kits as per Statutory Instrument 88 of 2020, Customs and Excise (General) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (No. 101). Accordingly, we note further, reports that indicate that the widely used test kits imported from China namely the Nantong Diagnosis Covid-19 and Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kit, are being imported at between one US$1 dollar and US$10 for 1 000 units. These costs are in stark contrast to the actual costs of testing in Zimbabwe which range between USD$50 to USD75 per test. We further highlight the limited reach of testing which is relying on areas where pre-identified cases are present and not proactively seeking or ensuring other hotspots are detected through the normal testing of citizens.

  • We call for the reduction of test costs to ensure that private sector and the general socio-economic activities which encourage testing are accessible through affordable testing services to communities.
  • We reiterate our call for Government to intervene in this public health emergency and actively ensure that reduction of testing costs throughout Zimbabwe.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)

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