467 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 8th of July 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 62 383 after 2 156 new cases all local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Mashonaland East at 327 cases. The hotspots updates are as follows; Mashonaland West Province- Kariba (18), Karoi (18), Chinhoyi (57) Magunje (57), Mashonaland Central –Mt Darwin (25) and Bindura (66). Mashonaland East-Seke (77), Marondera (65). Masvingo Province – Chiredzi (160), Masvingo (53). Midlands Province – Kwekwe (45). Bulawayo Province – Nkulumane (24), Emakhandeni (28) and Northern Suburbs (100), Harare Province (278).
We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 7th of the July 2021 was 633 hospitalised cases: 96 New Admissions, 161 Asymptomatic cases, 380 mild to moderate cases, 65 severe cases and 27 cases in Intensive Care Units.
Active cases went up to 17 499. The total number of recoveries went up to 42 855 increasing by 525 recoveries. The recovery rate goes down, further to 69% from 70%. A total of 29 750 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 848 808. A total of 5 84 770 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 579 699. The death toll went up to 2 029 after 56 new deaths were recorded.
We commend the increased levels of testing throughout the country. We urge Government to sustain the momentum and to support the tracing teams with adequate support to ensure comprehensive testing is undertaken.
Critical emerging issues
Vaccine Centres as Super Spreaders
We highlight with concern the emergence of vaccine centres as potential super spreader points. We note with concern the extreme level of congestion and endless queues at vaccine centres, with the majority of queuing people disregarding social distancing as they jostle for the vaccine service.
We highlight with distress incidents of persons sleeping outside vaccine centres after days of queuing and failing to get into vaccine centres such as scenes reported in Bulawayo. We call for the authorities to address this chaos as the vaccine centres as the situation may result in vaccine centres unwittingly becoming super spreader points.
- We call for urgent attention and support to be given to managing the queues at vaccine centres to ensure respect and compliance with physical distancing regulations.
- We call for gender segregation of queues both inside and outside the vaccine centres. In the same respect, we urge separate queues for the frail, elderly and other vulnerable sections.
- We recommend a pre-booking system to be implemented at all vaccine centres
- We call for prioritisation on queues of those who already received their first vaccine shots
- We amplify requests for the publication of a comprehensive national vaccine schedule with all venues, operating times, the vaccines available and number of persons to be served per day.
- We urge support and training to all frontline responders regarding infection control at vaccine centres, in order to minimize their risk of exposure
Lack of PPE at Vaccine Centres
We are alarmed by the lack of adequate PPE for frontline workers at vaccine centres who are administering the vaccines to very high numbers of people. We also note that these frontline workers are attending to persons who have no evidence of their COVID-19 status at the time they present themselves for vaccination. We further draw attention to the inconsistency in masks worn by frontline workers. We are concerned by frontline workers who at times, have been observed without masks.
We are further concerned by the thin plastic aprons worn by frontline workers, with no other comprehensive PPE, as they attend to large numbers of people during a third wave with a highly transmissible virus. In some distressing instances, our networks report inconsistencies in the wearing of gloves by frontline workers. In summary, we are concerned for the frontline health workers themselves who are clearly at very high risk of exposure.
- We therefore reiterate the prioritisation of the safety of frontline workers, in particular staffers at vaccine centres who have a direct impact on infection control.
- We urge provision of adequate PPE to frontline workers serving to all vaccine centres
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)