623 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 11 th of December 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 165 002 after 3 004 new cases all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 861 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate data as at 15:00hrs on 10 December 2021, 260 hospitalised cases: 35 New Admissions, 7 Asymptomatic cases, 235 mild-to-moderate cases, 17 severe cases and 1 case in Intensive Care Units. A total of 6 757 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 3 943 961. A total of 5 873 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 2 966 892. Active cases went up to 30 505. The total number of recoveries went up to 129 562 increasing by 120 recoveries. The recovery rate dropped to 79%. The death toll went up to 4 735 after 6 new deaths were recorded.
Critical Emerging Issue
Access to COVID-19 Testing
We highlight the critical issues pertaining to access to COVID-19 tests. Testing is a critical element in ensuring that awareness in communities drives the necessary levels of adherence to public health measures. However accessing testing is still a real issue in communities. The key matter arising is the costs of the tests which are still grossly and unjustifiably prohibitive. This makes casual testing highly unaffordable hence the idea that many people have a “flue” become problematic where our testing rate is showing a spike of 42% increase in cases. It is trite that presently there is significant under testing due to access to testing issues. This could be ameliorated significantly if action is taken within the public and private health sector to address the question of why tests are still so expensive. The fact that direct suspect cases may access tests at no costs in the public sector does not address the fundamental issue of the costs of the tests themselves. Despite 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) COVID-19 are still expensive. 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$30 to USD$60 per test. We further highlight the limited reach of testing which is relying on areas where pre-identified cases are present and not proactively seeking or ensuring other hotspots are detected through the normal testing of citizens
- We call for an urgent competition investigation into the costs of tests currently prevailing across the country.
- We call for the Anti-Corruption Commission to undertake enquiries regarding costs of tests in the market.
- 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.
Herd Immunity Target Missed
We place focus on the National Vaccine target to vaccinate 60% of the population (10 million people) to meet herd immunity by December 2021. We highlight that as we are in December only 25.6% persons have been vaccinated thus far. We highlight several issues that we believe to have hampered the vaccination drive namely, delays in providing accurate information which created space for vaccine misinformation and disinformation, science denialism, anti-vaccine sentiments, limited access and limited choice in types of vaccines, low level of reporting of vaccine after effects and the delayed expansion of vaccine centres. We remain concerned at the low pace of expansion of vaccination centres. This remains a central issue in the low numbers of access to vaccines. We note that the expansion of vaccinations to persons over 16 and under 18 years is in a bid to expand the vaccine pool and this was finally expanded in November 2021 to include schools and learning centres being vaccine centres. Furthermore, we highlight continued gaps in access to vaccination sites. ? We continue to call for expansion to vaccinations site to include market places and transport hubs/inter-changes.
- We reiterate our calls for expansion of vaccination centres to agro-dealers and agro centres and collection depots.
- We continue to call for expansion of vaccination centres to shopping centres/malls and new and developing housing areas.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe