464 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 5th of July 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 56 014 after 1 540 new cases all local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare at 268 cases. The hotspots updates are as follows; Mashonaland West Province- Kariba (35), Karoi (42), Chinhoyi (38). We note the absence of updates from Kasimure, Nyamunga and Chidamoyo. Mashonaland Central – Guruve (44). We note the absence of updates from Centenary, Guruve, Mt Darwin, Mazowe and Bindura. Mashonaland East-Marondera (75), Goromonzi (44). We note the absence of updates from Mutoko and Murehwa. Masvingo Province – Chiredzi (40), Masvingo (27) we note the absence of an update from Gutu, Zaka, Bikita and Mwenezi, Midlands Province – Kwekwe (24), we note the absence of an update on Gweru and Zvishavane. Bulawayo Province – Nkulumane (20), Emakhandeni (31) and Northern Suburbs (53), Harare 268.
We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 4th of the July 2021 was 479 hospitalised cases: 60 New Admissions, 67 Asymptomatic cases, 327 mild to moderate cases, 60 severe cases and 15 cases in Intensive Care Units.
Active cases went up to 12 697. The total number of recoveries went up to 41 406 increasing by 1 167 recoveries. The recovery rate goes down, further, to 74% from 75%. A total of 4 638 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 797 715. A total of 3 583 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 571 721. The death toll went up to 1 911 after 19 new deaths were recorded.
We note with grave concern the highest single day number of recorded infections at 1 540 new cases. We remain concerned at the rapid increase of the prevalence and persistence of the spread of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe, as we highlight further that the cases of coronavirus in June alone are the highest number of cases in the pandemic thus far yet recorded in a single month.
Critical emerging issues
COVID-19 home-based care crisis and the Establishment of a Virtual Hospital
We persist in highlighting the implications of Government stretched capacities and fragilities of the health sector by raising the implications and the reality that COVID-19 third wave once more will be carried by the burdens of communities and women in households directly. We continue to call out this crisis of care which is unrecognised, unresolved and unfunded.
We continue to highlight that appalling limitations of the Zimbabwe’s health sector which have been laid excruciatingly bare, by the COVID-19 pandemic. We note that the treatment and management of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe has largely been outsourced to individuals and in particular to women in communities, who have borne the burden of supporting the treatment and management of COVID at home.
We therefore continue to place a spotlight on the announcement by Government of the Establishment of the Virtual Hospital on the 28 of April 2021 in which Cabinet directly laid out its intent as follows;
“In a development set to revolutionise COVID-19 management, Cabinet adopted a proposal to set up a Virtual Hospital for the Management of COVID-19 patients. This comes from the realisation that most COVID-19 patients recover without symptoms or after experiencing mild ones, which do not require hospitalisation. Government will establish a provisional figure of Ten Thousand (10 000) to twenty thousand (20 000) home-based beds. A network of health staff will carry out protocol-based monitoring and management of the cases. The equipment support for this programme is as follows:
- Rechargeable oxygen concentrators
- Finger pulse or saturation monitors
- Non-contact thermometers
- Blood glucose testing machines
- Blood pressure machines
The equipment will be deployed to the admitted patients and returned when the patient gets discharged. The establishment of the Virtual Hospital will therefore alleviate the pressure on hospitals. The public will be kept abreast of developments in this regard.”
- Accordingly, we continue to call upon Government to uphold its commitment to the nation, communities and women who are at the centre of the COVID-19 crisis to reveal the practical measures taken to deliver upon the virtual hospital and the timelines and expectations of when the service commitment by Government will be delivered.
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
Travelling and Quarantine of returning citizens
We note that deported citizens will be quarantined. We call for Government to fully expand this provision by announcing whether Quarantine centres for returnees are being fully restored and further the commitment of Treasury to support these centres especially in cases where persons returning as deportees are financially indigent and have limited social support.
Whilst we note that the COVID-19 measures make direct reference to the quarantining of citizens from countries registering the Alpha (first identified in the UK) and Delta (first identified in India) COVID-19 variants;
- We reiterate our calls upon Government, for the avoidance of doubt, to openly list countries with the above variants for Zimbabwe specifically and directly.
We further note the financial burden on Travellers from countries with the Alpha and Delta variants who will be subject to 4 tests on the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 10th day of quarantine.
- We continue to call for the announcement of the system to ensure that self-quarantined travellers are indeed monitored and regularly checked so as to avoid abuse of the system or loopholes which may reduce the efforts to ensure effective infection control.
- Noting the reiteration that traveling with a fake COVID-19 certificate attracts a custodial sentence and as such we call for strengthened measures to ensure detention centres and holding cells are supported to readiness to address the infection control of COVID-19 in this controlled population.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)