666 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 23rd of January 2022, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 228 254 after 75 new cases all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tallies were recorded in Mashonaland East and Midlands with 13 cases each. We note that the Hospitalisation rate data as at 15:00hrs on 22 January 2022, was: 173 hospitalised cases: 13 New Admissions, 12 Asymptomatic cases, 116 mild-to-moderate cases, 36 severe cases and 9 cases in Intensive Care Unit. A total of 3 110 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 4 242 371. A total of 3 007 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 3 270 260. A total of 787 people received their 3rd dose of vaccine shots bringing the cumulative for 3rd doses to 42 773. Active cases went down to 9 691. The recovery rate remains at 93%. The total number of recoveries went up to 213 299 increasing by 306 recoveries. The death toll went up to 5 294 after 2 deaths were recorded.
Critical Emerging Issue
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 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 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.
Shunning of Face Masks
We continue to highlight, with concern, reports from our networks, 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 note the same practice by congregants in various church institutions 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe