Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 482 – WCoZ Situation Report

482 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 23rd of July 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 95 686 after 2 265 new cases, were recorded. All local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare 590 cases. The hotspots updates are as follows; Mashonaland West Province – Hurungwe (34), Kariba (12) Chegutu (75), Mashonaland Central – Bindura (27), Mazowe (25). Mashonaland East-Murehwa (82), Marondera (44). Masvingo Province – Chiredzi (10), Masvingo (67). Midlands Province – Kwekwe (15). Bulawayo Province – Nkulumane (48), Emakhandeni (59) and Northern Suburbs (72), Harare Province (590).

We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 22nd of the July 2021 was 926 hospitalised cases: 143 New Admissions, 255 Asymptomatic cases, 529 mild-to-moderate cases, 103 severe cases and 22 cases in Intensive Care Units.

Active cases went up to 29 739. The total number of recoveries went up to 62 986 increasing by 1 263 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 66%. A total of 48 931 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 1 400 905. A total of 6 568 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 671 155. The death toll went up to 2 961 after 91 new deaths were recorded.

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 various measures being put in place to ensure that all citizens get vaccinated. Whilst we support a proactive vaccination drive in Zimbabwe and remain cognisant that it is the belief of Government that the slow pace of vaccination is due to a resistance to vaccinate, we highlight the following critical issues.

We would continue to 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, 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 and demands of citizens.

In the same spirit, we continue to object to a ‘jabs for jobs’ approach currently being employed in various sectors. 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 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.
  • We call upon various stakeholders private, public, church and CSO to take up a shared-responsibility to raise community- awareness on COVID-19 vaccination education.

Outstanding issues

Improved Screening for COVID-19

We commend the high rate of testing for COVID-19 that has been sustained in the past month of the crisis. We note the commitment to trace outbreaks and ensure greater numbers of communities’ access to testing services. We continue to draw attention to the continued need to improve screening services and enhance the deployment of testing capacity.

  • We urge the re-introduction of mobile screening on highways and main arterial roads across the country. We consider such screening an integral part of proactive virus hunting and infection control. 
  • We continue to request clear guidelines to be communicated to communities in regards to screening for COVID-19 to ensure that those communities that require investigation are front loaded into testing services and that COVID-19 testing is channelled where it is needed the most.
  • We reiterate our calls for the expansion of high risks persons to ensure that specific socio-economic activities that have a direct bearing on infection control are clearly identified and supported with both enhanced surveillance and expanded testing support.
  • We call for increased deployment of testing services at people’s markets and fresh produce markets.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)

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