526 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 5th of September 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 125 550 after 125 new cases, all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Masvingo with 41 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on 4 September 2021 was 196 hospitalised cases: 11 new admissions, 3 asymptomatic cases, 119 mild-to-moderate cases, 55 severe cases and 19 cases in Intensive Care Units.
Active cases went down to 4 667. The total number of recoveries went up to 116 401 increasing by 1 312 recoveries. The recovery rate goes up further to 93% from 91%. A total of 14 916 people received their 1st dose of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 2 713 548. A total of 16 437 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 1 717 430. The death toll went up to 4 482 after 16 new deaths were recorded.
Critical Emerging Issue
We amplify the experiences of communities indicating chaos in the Back-to-School rush. Accordingly, we highlight the super spreader effect of the back-to-school period as follows:
- Congestion in shops and disregard of COVID-19 safety protocols
We amplify reports indicating that school supply retailers and stores across the country were completely unprepared for the return to school rush under COVID-19 conditions. Widespread reports, nationwide, indicate problematic congestion in stores which was exacerbated by the limited operating hours. Additionally, under such congestion, no social distancing was reportedly witnessed regards to store queues or overall congested spaces. This was further worsened by congestion in enquiries or schools’ lists, methods of payment and stock verification upon exit. Such slow-moving queues in congested stores were also notably marked by poor ventilation and as such forcing customers to spend inordinate amounts of time within such conditions. Furthermore, we highlight reports indicating the lack of use of sanitizers as reported nationwide at various stores, and non-adherence to face-mask wearing by customers. We further note with concern, how stores and retailers have not shifted, in any way, to online or booking and pick-up or pre-order facilities.
- Increased demand for public transport
We further note that the entire weekend was awash with horror experiences of congested transport facilities which failed to adhere to COVID-19 protocols due to the shortage of transport. We stress that the congestion in stores represents a trickle-down effect of congestion in public transport spaces and in public spaces including non-food market and other places of socio-economic activities in preparation of the resumption of schools.
- COVID-19 cases in examination classes
We are concerned by the reports indicating that under only 1 week of operations for examination classes several cases of COVID-19 have been tracked and traced. Accordingly, we are concerned about the potential rise of COVID-19 cases in normal school terms. While we commend the vigilance of the surveillance system in schools, we raise concern over the shifting of the burden of costs to parents and guardians, particularly in circumstances where already financially-strapped families are being required to supply COVID-19 tests prior to learners arriving at school.
- We therefore urge schools to reduce levels of rigidity regarding the school supplies that learners are required to present at school.
- We stress the need to ensure the prioritization of safety of learners, teachers and supporting staff during this period.
- We urge Government, ZUPCO and other players in the pubic transport sector to introduce pupils-only buses to alleviate public transport challenges encountered by pupils.
- We call for specific support to small scale business operators in the education sector to drive adaptation, and innovation and to support their recoveries in the post-COVID-19 recovery period.
- We call for state support to assist community suppliers and local retailers to shoulder the costs of adaptation to support pre-booking and pick up systems.
- We call on retailers and shops to ensure consistent compliance to COVID-19 regulation at payment points, fitting rooms, and shops entry points.
- We call for increased coordination between schools reporting suspect cases of COVID-19 and community clinics to fast-track access to testing for schools and remove the burden of expensive COVID-19 testing on parents.
Shortages of 2nd Dose of COVAXIN
We highlight the shortages of second doses of the COVAXIN to citizens who were vaccinated in May 2021. We highlight the undue stress, trauma, complete lack of support being experienced by this group of persons. We amplify the traumatising experiences that citizens are reporting of being sent pillar-to-post with inadequate information, confusing vaccination advice and ultimately are being left out in the cold.
We continue to stress that these are not the outcomes of the vaccination programme that Zimbabweans expect.
We are persistently alarmed at the zero to limited efforts being made to inform communicate and advise this group of citizens. This is completely untenable.
We note that of the 75 000 pledged doses only 35 000 doses have been received thus far from the Government of India. The shortfall of 40 000 doses, five months later is a stain on the vaccination program however the lack of responsiveness by Government is an unnecessary self-inflicted blight on Governments efforts.
- We call for an immediate support program to COVAXIN first dose recipients.
- We call for an acknowledgment of the presence of these citizens who are in this group of persons.
- We call for immediate release of medical advice to support citizens in having a substantive roadmap to securing their vaccination status, especially in the midst of blanket vaccination mandate, which is unable to cope with the reality of the Zimbabwe’s response to the pandemic on the ground.
- We call for government not to ignore the crisis in this community.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe