496 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 6th of August 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 115 445 after 956 new cases were recorded, all local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 140 cases. The hotspots updates are as follows: Mashonaland West Province – Hurungwe (21), Kariba (6), Makonde (10), Mashonaland Central – Bindura (11), Mazowe (11). Mashonaland East – Marondera (20), Murehwa (15). Masvingo Province – Chiredzi (26), Masvingo (25), Midland Province – Kwekwe (8), Harare Province (140).
We note that the Hospitalisation rate as of 15:00hrs on the 5 of August 2021 was 612 hospitalised cases: 82 new admissions, 97 asymptomatic cases, 405 mild-to-moderate cases, 81 severe cases, and 29 cases in Intensive Care Units. (St Ruperts, Arundel and Muzari did not report).
Active cases went down to 25 114. The total number of recoveries went up to 86 526 increasing by 1 637 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 74%. A total of 37 057 people received their 1st dose of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 1 817 598. A total of 46 118 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 966 672. The death toll went up to 3 805 after 51 new deaths were recorded.
Critical Emerging Issues
GBV and State Responsiveness to GBV during the Lockdown
We continue to raise concerns over the increase in GBV cases in Zimbabwe. We highlight local evidence regarding the rise Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) continues unabated and that access to services and modes of delivery of services for victims/survivors of this type of violence are limited in real terms and are largely deprioritised within the criminal justice system.
Further, our own experience in Zimbabwe has shown that the lockdown has to an extent exacerbated known drivers of intimate partner violence (IPV) and domestic violence such as increased stress at the household level, as well as lockdowns and limits on travel making it harder for women and girls to escape abuse and access support.
Reports also indicate that regular health, psychosocial and safe-house services are being overwhelmed, while traditional walk-in services are becoming harder to access or are not operating.
Due to travel bans and other lockdown measures, access to critical services such as clinical management of rape, healthcare services for survivors of violence in the home or family, sexual and reproductive healthcare, as well as mental health and psychosocial support, have been interrupted. In certain instances, this has resulted in unplanned or forced pregnancies, unsafe abortions, inadequate prenatal and post-natal care for pregnant and lactating women, increase in STIs including HIV, self-harm and suicide.
Our monitoring continues to reveal that survivors are facing challenges accessing services at hospitals. We note that these challenges are compounded by social factors that already militate against the reporting of gender-based violence and in particular sexual gender-based violence.
- We therefore recommend prioritisation of access to GBV especially SGBV services in public hospitals, at provincial land district levels and at other local clinics.
- We urge Government agencies, Ministry of Health and Child Care, the Zimbabwe Republic Police Victim Friendly Unit (VFU), Social Welfare Department, and Civil Society Organisations to prioritise awareness raising and support services for survivors of Gender Based Violence especially in this time of COVID-19.
- We call upon Government to create and facilitate stronger solid community base for the welfare and protection of women and children, during emergency situations and recovery planning.
- We reinforce our recommendations to stakeholders, CSOs and Government of Zimbabwe to urgently implement a dedicated ring-fenced budget to increase domestic funding for national GBV response.
- We continue to call for expanded access to information on GBV services, including publicizing hotlines, tollfree lines and data base of local public health facilities where women and girls can receive compassionate and sensitive care. We recommend that this information be integrated into the national COVID-19 response messaging.
- We call for Government to protect the girl child from rape, sexual exploitation, child marriages and forced marriages during COVID-19.
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 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 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)