599 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 17th of November 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 133 557 after 15 new cases all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Masvingo with 15 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate data as at 15:00hrs on 16 November 2021, 13 hospitalised cases: 2 New Admissions, 0 Asymptomatic cases, 10 mild-to-moderate cases, 2 severe cases and 1 cases in Intensive Care Units. A total of 32 680 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 3 546 966. A total of 7 079 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 2 720 058. Active cases go up to 487. The total number of recoveries went up to 128 371 increasing by 34 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 96%. The death toll goes up to 4 699 as 1 death was recorded recorded. Once again we commend the Government and citizens for a second consecutive day of high rate of vaccination of first doses in a single day today which another group of more than 30 00 persons begin their vaccination journeys. This rate of vaccination is critical to maintain if the daily national target of 50 thousand vaccines a day is to be met to drive national herd immunity by December 2021.
Critical Emerging Issue
Retail sector in infection control
We reiterate concerns over the weakened vigilance in retail supermarket stores including some large-scale national retailers, across the country in regards to COVID-19 measures in stores. Our monitoring reveals that a growing trend amongst most supermarkets, which are no longer adhering to the public health guidelines such as mandatory disinfection of premises, hand sanitizing for customers and temperature checks.
- We call for special attention to be paid at points of exist at supermarket, with store personnel, who handle receipts and shopping bags, from multiple customers who are not sanitizing their hands frequently.
- We call for an end to the practice of handling directly customer receipts and bags at store exists.
- We urge retailers and businesses to strictly adhere to public health guidelines in order to minimize risk of exposure to customers and the general populace.
Continued High Costs of Testing for COVID-19
We continue to track with grave concern the unrelenting high costs of COVID-19 tests which is no longer justifiable economically. We highlight the reports and reality of the high costs of testing for COVID-19, in particular the PCR tests. We note the context presently include custodial sentences for travellers into Zimbabwe or leaving Zimbabwe who may present fake COVID-19 certificates. We note further, the rise of the infections, in hospitalisations and deaths of COVID-19 which require a re-prioritisation of the test and trace mechanisms. We highlight the measures to support increased and accessible COVID-19 testing through the removal of customs duties for COVID-19 test kits as per Statutory Instrument 88 of 2020, Customs and Excise (General) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (No. 101). Accordingly, we note further, reports that indicate that the widely used test kits imported from China namely the Nantong Diagnosis Covid-19 and Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kit, are being imported at between one US$1 dollar and US$10 for 1 000 units. These costs are in stark contrast to the actual costs of testing in Zimbabwe which range between USD$50 to USD75 per test.
- We call for the reduction of test costs to ensure that private sector and the general socio-economic activities which encourage testing are accessible through affordable testing services to communities.
- We reiterate our call for Government to intervene in this public health emergency and actively ensure that reduction of testing costs throughout Zimbabwe.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe