548 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 27th of September 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 129 919 after 294 new cases, all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Matebeleland North with 63 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on 26 September 2021 was 79 hospitalised cases: 10 new admissions, 18 asymptomatic cases, 53 mild-to-moderate cases, 4 severe cases and 4 cases in Intensive Care Units.
Active cases went up to 2 866. The total number of recoveries went up to 122 446 increasing by 197 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 94%. A total of 14 358 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 3 051 371. A total of 14 549 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 2 211 880. The death toll went up to 4 607 after 3 new deaths were recorded.
Critical Emerging Issue
Increased social activities and non-compliance with COVID-19 prevention measures
We continue to note the growing practice of non-adherence to safety measures such as physical distancing, sanitization of workplaces, wearing of facemasks and regular temperature checks. Our networks have also raised concern over some commuter operators plying long-distance routes failing to maintain public health safety protocols such as physical distancing, and sanitization. This raises concern especially in a context where COVID-19 is quickly gaining ground in schools and tertiary institutions. We therefore worry that the complacency displayed by the public, businesses and employers may plunge the country into another wave of COVID-19.
- We urge citizens to observe public health guidelines as they meet and interact in public places such as drinking spots and beerhalls.
- We continue to call for the strict implementation of public health safety protocols in the public transport system.
Exit Weekend for Schools and Infection Control
We note the on-going debate between schools and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MOPSE) regarding the release of learners to home visits for the Exit weekend. We note the concerns raised by the ministry regarding a narrow and restrictive interpretation of the school calendar which entails that learners do not get the traditional in-term break.
We commend the efforts of the ministry in supporting reduced movements in the public domains as raised by the schools’ calendar. We note that this is a recognition of the real-time threat of the risk of spreading infection if Exit Weekend is resumed.
We however, highlight mental health wellness as critical to supporting adolescents’ health in schools.
We connect with concern over the high number of cases being reported daily of adolescents in distress, attempting to commit suicide. As such, we recognise the need to support some form of Exit weekend activities or relaxation of schools’ activities during that period in order to improve the mental health of learners.
Supporting measures from other sectors
We remain concerned at policy measures and enforcement mechanisms that are inconsistent and are directly contradictory regards to infection control. In light of the measures introduced by MOPSE, we are particularly concerned that other sectors do not presently have equitable measures to ensure that the benefits of non-Exit weekend are augmented and sustained in respect of reduction of infection rates. In that aspect, we make reference to the agricultural and livelihood sectors which in real terms are harder to contain and control.
We note that schools are controlled environments and other sectors are not as easily controlled in regards to infection control. Hence more measures in markets Agric-centres and public transport must be undertaken to ensure equity in infection control responsibilities.
- We urge the Ministry to lead in providing direction for controlled visits of parents to learners and implementation of wellness activities during the traditional Exist weekend period.
- We call for schools to deliberate and design wellness programs for students and engage in Anti-Bullying and Anti-Stigmatisation campaigns for learners and teachers alike in order to support mental health wellness of learners.
- We call for increased support to schools through water sanitation infrastructure directly to support sustainable health mechanisms in schools.
- We call for direct support to infection control in agro-centres, community and traders markets and public spaces such as public transport, ranks and terminuses.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe