Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 501 – WCoZ Situation Report

501 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 11th of August 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 117 954 after 696 new cases, all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 149 cases. The hotspots updates are as follows: Mashonaland West Province – Hurungwe (1), Kariba (3), Makonde (12), Mashonaland Central – Bindura (16), Mazowe (7). Mashonaland East – Marondera (20), Murehwa (20). Masvingo Province – Chiredzi (7), Masvingo (0), Midlands Province – Kwekwe (11), Harare Province – Harare (149).

We note that the Hospitalisation rate as of 15:00hrs on 10 August 2021 was 536 hospitalised cases: 31 new admissions, 90 asymptomatic cases, 333 mild-to-moderate cases, 79 severe cases and 34 cases in Intensive Care Units. (Providence, Arundel, BS Leon, St Michael’s, St Anne’s and Montague did not report). 

Active cases went down to 20 461. The total number of recoveries went up to 93 502 increasing by 2 003 recoveries. The recovery rate further went up marginally to 79% from 78%. A total of 20 628 people received their 1st dose of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 1 933 220. A total of 23 154 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 1 084 392. The death toll went up to 3 991 after 41 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 of Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) that 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 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 against 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.

Outstanding issues

Measures to Support Communities to Access Substantive On-Time Health Care Support 

We continue to note the difficulties reported by our networks for positive COVID-19 persons to access health support. We are concerned at the impression that communities and households seek care when it is too late without seeking to understand why. We note reports from our networks that indicate not being able to make substantive distinctions between flu and COVID-19 symptoms. We also note reports reporting late and rapid onset of symptoms. Further, we note households who have to make a decision between paying for tests versus using limited household funds to pay for the care of COVID-19. We are concerned that communities report community health care centres with limited supplies and hence opt out of staying in health care centres where there is no known support versus the tangible care that can be offered at home albeit to their detriment. 

  • We continue to call for direct efforts to reduce the lag time between policy announcements and implementation of the same in particular the virtual hospital services meant to provides expanded care to home based treatment and management of COVID-19. 
  • We continue to call the Government to ensure reduction of costs for testing of COVID-19 for suspected cases. 
  • We urge full support for households facing the crisis of the treatment and management of COVID-19. 

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)

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