Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 483 – WCoZ Situation Report

483 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 24th of July 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 97 277 after 1 591 new cases all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare 277 cases. The hotspots updates are as follows; Mashonaland West Province – Hurungwe (38), Kariba (9) Chegutu (59), Mashonaland Central – Bindura (12), Mazowe (13). Mashonaland East-Mutoko (73), Seke (55). Masvingo Province – Chiredzi (18), Masvingo (17). Midlands Province – Kwekwe (15). Bulawayo Province – Nkulumane (29), Emakhandeni (46) and Northern Suburbs (63), Harare Province (277).

We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 23rd of the July 2021 was 879 hospitalised cases: 100 New Admissions, 233 Asymptomatic cases, 499 mild-to-moderate cases, 110 severe cases and 37 cases in Intensive Care Units.

Active cases went up to 29 599. The total number of recoveries went up to 64 628 increasing by 1 642 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 66%. A total of 37 985 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 1 438 890. A total of 6 619 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 677 774. The death toll went up to 3 050 after 89 new deaths were recorded.

We note with commendation religious leaders taking part in shared responsibility to dispel myths and public misconceptions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. We continue to urge various stakeholders private, public, church and CSO to take up this shared-responsibility to raise community- awareness on COVID-19 vaccination education.

Critical Emerging Issues

Disregard for COVID-19 Restrictions

We highlight the results of the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency regarding the disregard of COVID-19 restrictions. We raise the highlights as we are in the third wave of COVID-19 driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19. We note with alarm that only 58% of Zimbabweans are avoiding social gatherings down from 91%  recorded in 2020. This is a significant drop of adherence to COVID regulations in the direst period Zimbabwe is currenting experiencing. We highlight the particular finding as it speaks directly to the socio-economic restrictions aimed at reducing the pace of transmission and flattening the curve.  We highlight the particular result of the survey and we note with concern the continued increase in the COVID-19 new cases rate and the potential of asymptomatic cases driving infections in a context of a largely unvaccinated public.

  • We call for increased enforcement of the COVID-19 regulation in regards to social gatherings. 
  • We continue to call for the strict implementation of public health safety protocols in the public spaces.
  • We urge citizens to observe physical distancing and proper use of masks, as they meet and interact in public places and to limit unnecessary gatherings.
  • We urge businesses to continuously fumigate premises and workplaces for the safety of workers and patrons.

Outstanding 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.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)

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