505 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 15th of August 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 120 088 after 235 new cases, all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 44 cases. We note the general nature of the hotspot update which did not give hotspot specific data but reported on the general downward trend of new infections due to containment measures. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on 14 August 2021 was 409 hospitalised cases: 34 new admissions, 98 symptomatic cases, 187 mild-to-moderate cases, 98 severe cases and 26 cases in Intensive Care Units. (Muzari, St Rupert’s, Queen Mary, Kariba, Matebeleland South, Bulawayo and St Michael’s did not report).
Active cases went down to 18 656. The total number of recoveries went up to 97 323 increasing by 607 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 80%. A total of 28 015 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 2 064 314. A total of 26 334 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 1 224 715. The death toll went up to 4 109 after 19 new deaths were recorded.
Critical Emerging Issues
Ignoring adverse effects of vaccine is not the answer
We continue to note with distress the unresponsiveness of the vaccination program and the negative attitude of healthcare workers to persons who indicate they are having notable difficulties post the vaccine being administered. We are alarmed by reports indicating that in the urgency of ensuring that as many people as possible receive vaccination, issues pertaining to reported negative effects of the vaccine are not being effectively responded to. We are concerned with the growing impression which regards paying attention to adverse effects of the vaccine as being anti-vaccination. We are distressed with reports in our networks of vaccinated persons experiencing continuous headaches, dizziness, numbness in one’s side of the body, difficulties breathing and sharp chest pains. It is further reported that at the second dose stage, these reports are not recorded by health personnel who do not seem to treat the matter with urgency. Rather, they proceed with administering the second dose unless the concerned person is fully opting out of vaccination.
This dire situation is driving communities to report increased instances of self-medicating with daily doses of aspirin and influencing others to take aspirin prior to vaccination as a means of community self-support. We note that all these developments are taking place in the absence of medical sector guidance and support.
We emphasize that the vaccination campaign will survive as long as robust engagement, information and awareness are openly discussed and provided to all citizens. We reiterate that all citizens enjoy constitutional rights to bodily integrity and health, which are fully protected at law and as such, must be extended to full protection at practice.
- We call upon the Government and in particular the medical sector at large to strongly advise on adverse effects of the vaccines and the possible care for such.
- We strongly urge policy makers and the National COVID-19 IMT to address this issue head-on to ensure the best possible outcomes.
- We call for information dissemination and detailed support mechanisms to ensure that open discussions of critical support to those with adverse effects are not ostracised, denied, or unduly criticised as being anti-vaccination. We call for open acknowledgement that vaccination centre program presently is very poor at ensuring that adverse effects are noted and supported at community level so as to begin to address real time gaps in healthcare support.
- We challenge the government and substantively question its ability to track and monitor persons going through adverse effects post vaccination.
Non-adherence to social distancing and other public health guidelines
Noting growing patterns in non-compliance with public health and safety protocols such as social distancing and sanitisation. This has been recorded nationwide, including service providers such as the ZUPCO buses, food outlets particularly and other businesses, where there appears to be a relaxation regarding constant disinfection of workspaces.
- We therefore remind businesses, service providers and the general populace that wearing masks alone is not the panacea to curbing the spread of the pandemic. This measure should be supported with actions such as social and physical distancing, disinfecting work spaces and use of hand sanitizers.
- In the same breath, we urge Government, Civil Society organisations and stakeholders to raise awareness on the WHO updated guidelines for proper use of masks.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe