Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 460 – WCoZ Situation Report

460 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 1st of July 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 51 221 after 1 357 new cases were reported, 1344 local cases and 13 deportees from Botswana. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 253 cases. The hotspots updates are as follows; Mashonaland West Province- Kariba (45), Karoi (24), Chinhoyi (33), Magunje (18), Chidamoyo (32), Mashonaland Central – Mazowe (23) we note the absence of updates from Mt Darwin, Centenary and Bindura. Mashonaland East-Marondera (27), Masvingo Province- Bikita (26), Masvingo (25). We note the absence of updates from Chiredzi and Mwenezi, Midlands – Kwekwe (31), Gweru (130) we note the absence of an update on Zvishavane. Bulawayo Province – Nkulumane (24), Emakhandeni (29) and Northern Suburbs (43).

We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 30th of June 2021 was 382 hospitalised cases:  35 New Admissions, 73 Asymptomatic cases, 238 mild to moderate cases, 55 severe cases and 16 cases in Intensive Care Units. We note that Matebeleland South, Masvingo and Midlands did not report on the hospitalisation rate. 

Active cases went up to 10 002. The total number of recoveries went up to 39 411 increasing by 290 recoveries. The recovery rate went down further, from 78% to 77%. A total of 5 537 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 782 698.  A total of 3 985 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 559 262. The death toll goes up to 1 808 after 19 new deaths were recorded.

We continue to highlight that the COVID-19 recovery rate percentage has dropped over 20 points since 1 June 2021 where it was holding at 98%. We stress that it has been dropping steadily throughout the month, as both new infections and fatalities rise to the present 77%, hence marking a significant drop of 20% in total within a month.

We highlight those active recorded cases of COVID-19 are now at 10 002 cases which represents the largest number of formally documented cases. We call for a rapid expansion of home-based care State support to communities and households who have limited access to health facilities.  We urge their support as they nurse and care for both suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases at home remotely and with limited knowledge.

  • We further call for a resuscitation of the National COVID-19 hotline to assist communities with clearing suspected cases. We call for strengthening of support to the hotline response mechanisms to provide real time support to communities and households in crisis.

Critical emerging issues

Mandatory Vaccination

We continue to highlight the actions and discourse regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in Zimbabwe. We note with grave concern the circular issued by the Public Service Commission regarding the mandatory vaccination of public servants who have all been categorised as frontline workers. We are fully cognisant that it is the belief of Government that slow pace of vaccination is due to a resistance to vaccinate. We would proffer to Government and policy makers alike, that vaccine resistance is not simply due to citizens not seeking to support public health programs, but, as global research has widely proven, is directly correlated to the wide availability of easy to understand, complete full disclosure of all matters surrounding vaccine development, vaccine monitoring systems, vaccine performance, side effects and ease of access to the vaccine. 

We continue to highlight that in an environment where the local vaccine mix has raised real time concerns, the current approach to dismiss public concerns on vaccines is not useful. Citizens have both constitutional and internationally recognised rights to information, to bodily integrity and safety, life and health. We reiterate that these fundamental rights and freedoms are inalienable, indivisible and cannot be suspended “for the greater good” without meeting the expectations, rights and demands of citizens.

 In the same spirit, we continue to object to a ‘jabs for jobs’ approach. We continue to object to the blanket categorisation of all workers, whether public or private sector, as frontline staff and persons at risk without due regard to the variables guiding infection control.

We note the reports indicating that 90% of the security sector has been vaccinated and whilst this is an enviable target and regarding public health, we continue to raise the negative implications of mandatory vaccination narratives.

We highlight the results of the national Afro-Barometer survey on COVID-19 in Zimbabwe, which indicated that only four in 10 people (42%) trust the Government to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, and that only about half (47%) agree they are likely to try to get vaccinated.

These results indicate the lack of trust in safety and efficacy of vaccines in a context where Government is the sole procurer, sole information provider and sole administrator of that vaccine. As such, we underscore that primary focus ought to be on addressing those fears as opposed to making vaccination mandatory.

  • Therefore, we call for a national bio-medical citizen-focused address on the issues arising international and locally on the side effects and trends of the vaccines that are locally being utilised.
  • We amplify our calls for a national update specifically on vaccine performance with due regard to the four dominant variants of concern.
  • We request an official update of practical efforts being made to address congestion at vaccine centres and the applicable de-congestion efforts with timelines.  
  • We call for open debate on the available vaccines and the resources being utilised to procure the same
  • We urge a governance approach to vaccine that is progressive, inclusive, collaborative, consultative and responsive to citizens

 Nonadherence to Funeral Limits of 30 people

We draw attention to wide-spread reports from our networks regarding weak adherence to the limits of 30 persons at funerals. We note with distress the night vigils which are being held and the lack of strict enforcement on the limits of mourner gatherers.

  • We remind the public that funeral guidelines and limits apply to all funerals and not only for those with persons who have died from COVID-19.  We remind citizens further that these funeral guidelines are applicable in all communities including directly peri-urban and rural communities’ and not only urban communities.
  • We urge the dissemination of funeral guidelines to communities.
  • We recommend strengthening information to community leaders both formal and informal to ensure widespread understanding of funeral guidelines.
  • We call for supportive and progressive human rights-based community policing to ensure adherence to COVID-19 guidelines to communities and families in distress.

Outstanding issues

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 most 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

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)

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