659 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 16th of January 2022, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 226 078 after 144 new cases all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Mashonaland East with 29 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate data as at 15:00hrs on 15 January 2022, was: 105 hospitalised cases: 6 New Admissions, 13 Asymptomatic cases,78 mild-to-moderate cases, 12 severe cases and 2 cases in Intensive Care Unit. A total of 2 236 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 4 206 094. A total of 3 430 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 3 233 122. A total of 833 people received their 3rd dose of vaccine shots bringing the cumulative for 3rd doses to 26 631. Active cases went down to 13 729. The recovery rate remains to 92%. The total number of recoveries went up to 207 102 increasing by 1 014 recoveries. The death toll went up to 5 247 after 4 deaths were recorded.
Critical Emerging Issue
Reduced media coverage of COVID-19
We note, with growing concern, reduced media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe, as the Nation continues to roll-out the booster vaccination programme, with seemingly very little uptake from communities. We highlight that success of the booster shot roll-out requires adequate community awareness-raising and for the media at large remain vigilant of the pandemic. We further note the COVID-19 fatigue not only amongst communities, but also amongst stakeholders, duty bearers, the media and information community.
Cognisant of the key role played by the media in addressing matters of national concern;
- We call upon the media to remain vigilant to the pandemic in Zimbabwe.
- We call upon the editors and respective newsrooms to continue to prioritise the coverage and reporting of COVID-19 as we face difficulties in navigating the curve of infections.
- We urge robust grassroots information dissemination on the booster shots/third vaccine rollout.
Importance of tracking, monitoring and reporting COVID-19 variants
We continue to call for persistency and consistency in tracking, monitoring and sharing with the public the results of the genomic sequencing to trace COVID-19 variants of interest and variants of concern nationally. We continue to amplify reports from the local scientific community calling for the need to support research in genomic surveillance of COVID-19 positive cases among fully vaccinated individuals to determine the effectiveness against variants of interests and variants of concern. This monitoring is necessary to ensure tracking of vaccine efficacy in the face of the variants which can indeed nullify the gains of vaccines presently developed.
We further amplify grave concerns on emerging evidence that individuals with weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS may be prone to prolonged infection and increased likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 mutations. This is a critical element of ensuring public health support to Zimbabwe a country with the HIV prevalence rate of 12.9%. We highlight that despite the fact that Zimbabwe has met the UNAIDS target of having at least 73% of people with HIV access support to ensure viral load suppression, our largest trading partner and neighbour South Africa, has one of the world’s highest number of people living with HIV without viral load suppression.
Despite cases indicating a low number of international COVID-19 transmissions, we remain alive to the potential infection control implications of increased relaxation of COVID-19 regulations, increased socio-economic activities and increased traffic at our borders. The vigilance in regards to the potential variants of interest and variants of concern are a critical element in protecting the gains made thus far in the COVID-19 response.
- We call for the increased support into local research into genomic surveillance of COVID-19 positive cases among fully vaccinated individuals directly.
- We call for publication of the results of COVID-19 variant tracking widely.
- We call for increased support to genomic surveillance among persons living with HIV.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe