Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 495 – WCoZ Situation Report

495 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 5th of August 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 114 489 after 963 new cases were recorded. All were local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Mashonaland East with 188 cases. The hotspots updates are as follows: Mashonaland West Province – Hurungwe (13), Kariba (4), Makonde (16), Mashonaland Central – Bindura (14), Mazowe (13). Mashonaland East – Marondera (7), Murehwa (19). Masvingo Province – Chiredzi (16), Masvingo (25), Midlands Province – Kwekwe (9), Harare Province (199).

We note that the Hospitalisation rate as of 15:00hrs on the 4th of August 2021 was 501 hospitalised cases: 55 new admissions, 101 asymptomatic cases, 339 mild-to-moderate cases, 49 severe cases and 12 cases in Intensive Care Units. (In Harare Province, St Anne’s, Wilkins, Arundel and Health Point hospitals and Midlands Province did not report) 

Active cases went down to 25 846. The total number of recoveries went up to 84 889 increasing by 1 895 recoveries. The recovery rate goes up marginally from 73% to 74%. A total of 39 943 people received their 1st dose of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 1 780 541. A total of 56 887 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 920 554. The death toll went up to 3 754 after 43 new deaths were recorded. 

We note the steady uptake in vaccinations and continue to call for measures to improve the vaccination experience and the management of the vaccination centres to ensure the centres do not become super spreaders. 

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 consequences 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 the appalling limitations of 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 have 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 28th 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:

  1. Rechargeable oxygen concentrators
  2. Finger pulse or saturation monitors
  3. Non-contact thermometers
  4. Blood glucose testing machines
  5. 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 reiterate our calls upon Government to uphold its commitment to the nation, communities and women at large, 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.
  • We call for a progress report on the above programs and processes to ensure that the experiences of the communities are in tandem with the initiatives led by Government.  
  • We urge Parliament of Zimbabwe to remain vigilant in the oversight of the COVID-19 response of the Country. 
  • We continue to call for a Commission of Enquiry in the Management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe. 

Outstanding issues

Production of PCR Kits in Zimbabwe 

We commend the support to the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) to procure equipment to enable the University to begin to manufacture PCR testing kits and reagents for COVID-19, as well as other tests including HIV. We commend the Applied Genetics Testing Centre of NUST for the initiative which reportedly will contribute significantly to the reduction of tests kits costs in the country. It has been reported that anticipated costs are expected to drop by USD$40 as they will be on the market at about USD$20 versus a current market value of USD$60. 

  • Whilst we commend the initiative, we note that this matter has been on the COVID-19 response program for Zimbabwe for a while and as such we continue to call for prioritisation and expedition of government processes to ensure the highest levels of efficacy and efficiency in governance processes. 
  • We continue to call for direct efforts to reduce the lag time between policy announcements and implementation of the same. 

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)

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