515 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 25th of August 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 123 711 after 391 new cases, all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Manicaland 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 24 August 2021 was 340 hospitalised cases: 30 new admissions, 98 asymptomatic cases, 169 mild-to-moderate cases, 28 severe cases and 25 cases in Intensive Care Units. (Wilkins, Arundel, Montague, West End, Providence, Samuel Leon, Avenues Clinic, St Michael’s, Gokwe North & South, Chirumhanzu, Gweru Infectious, Midlands Private Hospital and Masvingo Province, did not report).
Active cases went down to 9 875. The total number of recoveries went up to 109 498 increasing by 838 recoveries. The recovery rate, goes up marginally, from 88% to 89%. A total of 39 897 people received their 1st dose of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 2 442 256. A total of 28 853 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 1 535 298. The death toll went up to 4 338 after 18 new deaths were recorded.
We note the arrival of an additional 1 million Sinovac vaccine doses to support the vaccination programme. We note that at this point the Government of Zimbabwe has purchased slightly over nine (9) million doses of vaccines. We applaud procurement efforts currently being made and continue to or a national report with clear gender-disaggregated data on vaccine distribution and access per each District in Zimbabwe We reiterate our call for vaccine equity and access.
Critical Emerging Issues
Extension of Operating Hours of Lower Courts
We note the announcement of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) ordering the resumption of normal court operations from today, however without the general public being present in the new Practice Direction 9 of 2021. This means that Civil and Criminal Courts, which have been on reduced operations due to COVID-19 control measures, have been returned to normal. This is a welcome measure as courts had limited their activities to remand hearings, bail applications and urgent applications.
We welcome the new measures that resume the filing and processing of new cases, processes, documents, pleadings, papers and court orders, including service and execution by the sheriff and the messenger of court, which shall be done in terms of the applicable court rules, legislation or court order.
We note that the higher courts remain on their normal vacation until the start of the third term on September 6.
Court sittings for the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, High Court, Labour Court and Administrative Court will also remain limited to urgent court applications and bail hearings until September 6, when the third term of the courts recommences.
We commend the resumption of the Civil and Criminal Courts.
- We urge the Judicial Service Commission to prioritise strengthening the case management system to ensure that the backlog of cases incurred during the COVID-19 lockdown is given special prioritisation.
- We call upon the JSC to inform the general public of the state of COVID-19 backlog as this is within the public interest.
- We call upon the prioritisation of family law matters to ameliorate the difficult context in which families and communities have been forced to endure as a result of the negative social impacts of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
- We call for the prioritisation of administrative and operation reforms at lower courts to support access to justice including enhancing the support of citizens to simple support such as photocopies, completion of forms, payment of fees and costs etc do not unduly burden citizens further from seeking relief legal processes after notable delays.
- We continue to call for programs to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Judiciary to ensure practical increased access to justice for communities.
Extension of Lockdown
We note the extension of the lockdown for an additional two weeks. We note the announcement that the education sector is set to resume in-person classes in the following manner: Schools will re-open on 30 August 2021 for examination classes and 6 September 2021 for non-examination classes.
We note restaurants are set to re-open for sit-in patrons who are fully vaccinated upon production of vaccination cards and strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols.
We note relaxation of inter-city travel and intercity transportation primarily to facilitate for learners who are anticipated to require inter-city travel and accordingly will be allowed during the re-opening of schools period, subject to monitoring by law enforcement agencies.
We note the extension of vaccination to teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17.
- We urge strengthening of vaccination monitoring and reporting system to protect minors.
- We continue to urge caution against creating two track community as restrictions on access to public spaces for persons who are not vaccinated continue to increase. We caution government against such a practice when vaccination centres remain extremely limited. Negative COVID-19 tests therefore should remain an option in infection control in public spaces.
- We continue to query enforcement guidelines and pattern especially in light of complicated measures such as a partial relaxation of inter-city travel which may lead to arbitrary enforcement patterns.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbawbe