Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 506 – WCoZ Situation Report

506 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 16th of August 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 120 532 after 444 new cases, all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 92 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 of 15:00hrs on 15 August 2021 was 450 hospitalised cases: 23 new admissions, 163 asymptomatic cases, 228 mild-to-moderate cases, 40 severe cases and 19 cases in Intensive Care Units. (Providence and UBH did not report).

Active cases went down to 17 843. The total number of recoveries went up to 98 551 increasing by 1 228 recoveries. The recovery rate goes up further, marginally, to 82% from 80%. A total of 27 236 people received their 1st dose of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 2 091 550. A total of 29 491 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 1 254 206. The death toll went up to 4 138 after 29 new deaths were recorded.

Critical Emerging Issues 

Schools opening prematurely insisting on in-person lessons 

We highlight growing reports from our networks across the country that report schools (including Trust and Independent schools in both high and low-density communities) opening prematurely and insisting that learners attend face-to-face lessons. This is in clear violation of the lockdown measures and communities want clear and direct lines of reporting errant schools. 

We reiterate that the current extended lockdown is an infection control mechanism that ought to support multi-layered approaches to bringing down the high rate of infections and hospitalisation driven by the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant. 

  • We urge enforcement agents to take note if this growing worrisome trend.
  • We call upon the Government to remain vigilant to the opening of schools prematurely and appropriately sanction errant schools.  
  • We urge Government to appropriately raise awareness through radio and TV that schools are not yet open. 

Outstanding 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 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.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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