507 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 17th of August 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 121 046 after 514 new cases, all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 81 cases. Once again, 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 16 August 2021 was 456 hospitalised cases: 51 new admissions, 107 asymptomatic cases, 264 mild-to-moderate cases, 48 severe cases and 37 cases in Intensive Care Units. We note that a number of medical facilities did not report.
Active cases went down to 16 679. The total number of recoveries went up to 100 211 increasing by 1 660 recoveries. The recovery rate goes up to 83%. A total of 53 978 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 2 145 537. A total of 50 996 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 1 304 802. The death toll went up to 4 156 after 18 new deaths were recorded.
We note the policy decision to immediately halt payment of COVID-19 Allowances to Council Nurses without giving any notice. This development is of grave concern as it directly impacts critical service personnel serving as frontline teams in response to COVID-19. We note that the third wave has placed notable strain and risk on frontline health workers, hence this group of workers should be extended as much support as possible. It is critical that Government reviews this intervention urgently in order to ensure that substantive support remains in place.
Critical Emerging Issues
We amplify the transport crisis and its intersection with women and girls’ rights and COVID-19. We continue to raise concerns on the creation and sustenance of the ZUPCO transport monopoly during a pandemic and in a context where there is inadequate transport to meet the needs of the commuting public. We raise concerns at the reports of ZUPCO drivers who are persistently receiving their pay-outs late and as such are now embarking on industrial action to raise their concerns. This places even greater strain on the availability of buses when already the crisis of unmet transport needs is so great. We raise concerns regarding the restructuring of the public transport system which has weakened the fabric of the mass public transit system remarkably. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, this move has not only posed devastating effects on infection control for COVID-19, but also on the safety and security of women and girls. This has been particularly the case, especially as there are growing complaints of the laxity of COVID-19 control measures on the available buses due to rising demand. In addition, it has been noted that the bus pick-up points and stations are persistently characterised by overcrowding with no social distancing and public sanitisation support measures. Furthermore, we continue to decry bus shortages and delays in transit times which consequently is placing communities and women directly in the face of illegal mshika mshika where incidents of rape and other forms of sexual offences are becoming rampant.
- We therefore recommend the introduction of women-only taxis and buses, so as not only to improve the accessibility of public transport, but also to ensure the safety and security of women and girls in the public transport system.
- We urge strict enforcement of public health-guidelines and health protocols in the public transport system.
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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe