648 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 5th of January 2022, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 219 057 after 1 379 new cases all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Matebeleland North with 237 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate data as at 15:00hrs on 4 January 2022, was: 292 hospitalised cases: 30 New Admissions, 30 Asymptomatic cases, 229 mild-to-moderate cases, 28 severe cases and 5 cases in Intensive Care Unit. A total of 6 834 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 4 147 992. A total of 8 737 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 3 161 795. A total of 1 051 people received their 3rd dose of vaccine shots bringing the cumulative for 3rd doses to 8 305. Active cases went down to 24 252. The recovery rate rises to 87%. The total number of recoveries went up to 189 713 increasing by 1 733 recoveries. The death toll went up to 5 092 after 14 deaths were recorded.
We note the re-opening of schools for exam-writing classes earlier this week, which has been reported by authorities, as going on smoothly. We continue to highlight the need to ensure prioritisation of safety and well-being of learners, teachers and supporting staff in order to minimise risk of numerous COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, as experienced in the past. In addition, we urge possible expedition in implementing comprehensive strategies for ensuring that the rest of pupils (no-exam writing) urgently resume physical schooling with adherence to and safety protocols and public health guidelines.
Critical Emerging Issue
Shunning of Face Masks
We highlight, with concern, reports from our networks in rural communities, which indicate an increased level of shunning of face mask wearing. We note the negative messages that communities are directing towards mask wearers, labelling them as disrespectful and/or of acting more sophisticated than the rest of the community by wearing masks around them. We further throw light upon mask wearing practises in residential communities across the country , which reflect relaxed attitudes towards the pandemic and a belief that the worst is over.
- We urge Government, Faith Based Organisations, Traditional Leaders and all those working to accurately inform communities of the COVID-19 pandemic to step up the messaging and awareness-raising initiatives.
- We urge communities to remain vigilant and continue to practice the highest levels of masks wearing particularly as we note the real constraints in public spaces of adhering to social distancing.
Home-based Care and Increase in Community Deaths
We note with sadness and great concern the disturbingly high number of community deaths being recorded. We are concerned that communities are shouldering the burden of testing, treating and death largely alone and unsupported by the services that are supposed to be easily and readily available to them as a whole. We further note that of the 24 620 currently active COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe, only 320 cases are currently hospitalised and the noting of only 60 of those being asymptomatic. This underscores the reality that a greater burden of COVID-19 management is being carried by communities and at household level. We highlight the need to ensure that relevant and adequate support is provided to communities in order to alleviate various difficulties presented by home-based COVID-19 care and management. We urge the following measures to be implemented by Government and stakeholders:
- Ensuring capacitation and resourcing of community isolation centres in order to cater for households that are incapable of practising self-isolation due to their restricted living and housing conditions.
- Provision of PPE to households taking care of COVID-19 patients.
- Stepping up on awareness campaigns on handling of COVID-19 deaths at community level in order to minimise risk of infection.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe