Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 535 – WCoZ Situation Report

535 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 14th of September 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 126 817 after 418 new cases, all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Midlands with 115 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on 13th September 2021 was 138 hospitalised cases: 12 new admissions, 17 asymptomatic cases, 82 mild-to-moderate cases, 27 severe cases and 12 cases in Intensive Care Units. 

Active cases went down to 3 051. The total number of recoveries went up to 119 216 increasing by 167 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 94%. A total of 16 938 people received their 1st dose of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 2 873 893. A total of 31 467 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 1 926 247. The death toll went up to 4 550 after 7 new deaths were recorded.

We continue to raise concern on the seemingly growing trend of handshakes and hugs in greetings across the country. We stress the importance of not shaking hands and maintaining appropriate social distance to ensure avoidance of a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections. Hand hygiene, hand sanitisation and non-contact of hands in interpersonal interactions is a critical component of ensuring infection control is sustained. 

Critical Emerging Issue

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Elderly

We amplify the impact of COVID-19 on the elderly in Zimbabwe. We highlight that persons above the age of 70, make up 3% of the Zimbabwe population and as such, their experiences and living conditions are often overlooked in policy law and practice. In particular, we highlight the increased vulnerabilities faced by the elderly as families who are hard hit and are struggling to recover socially and economically, have shifted from the social tradition of elderly care by abandoning them on the streets or placing them in homes and/or in the care of community centres. We highlight reports that indicate that care homes in Zimbabwe are reporting a 60% increase in admission in their centres. We note that of the 170 elderly person care facilities in Zimbabwe, most of these are currently full. Thus, the majority of elderly persons in Zimbabwe have indeed become part of the “silent victims” of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we draw attention to the inter-sectionality of the experiences of the elderly against a context where 49% of households in Zimbabwe are living in extreme poverty (World Bank). Data reveals that the majority of rural households are facing increased hunger as we are in the lean seasons, while 80% of urban households are struggling to secure food supplies. 

  • We urge direct increased state support to community centres, care homes and homes of elderly persons, especially as the majority of care homes in Zimbabwe do not charge residents, who are indigent for the support. 
  • We call for a shift in the development partner support to ensure that care homes and homes for the elderly are directly supported in food and other resources. 
  • We call for increased awareness campaigns to support the elderly in Zimbabwe in particular to raise awareness of negative practices of care for the elderly.

Outstanding issues 

New COVID-19 lockdown guidelines and safety measures 

We note the following new measures announced by Government yesterday:

  • Mandatory vaccination of civil servants, with those unvaccinated not allowed to come to work.
  • All gatherings not to exceed 100 persons.
  • Emphasis on church gatherings to be only attended by vaccinated congregants and that the number should be limited to 50% holding capacity.

Given the above developments, therefore,

  • We raise concern over mandatory vaccination of civil servants, once again highlighting the “jabs for jobs for policy” which leaves citizens with little room to exercise their freedoms and fundamental rights.
  • Furthermore, we highlight the exclusionary aspects of this policy, which does not provide a clear position on lactating, nursing and or expecting civil servants, especially against the background of monitoring reports of women being refused vaccination due to their status as pregnant and nursing mothers.
  • We urge Government to reconsider this newly announced position by taking an inclusive approach, which considers the various needs and realities of the diverse civil service in Zimbabwe.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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