667 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 24th of January 2022, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 228 514 after 287 new cases all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Masvingo with 106 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate data as at 15:00hrs on 23 January 2022, was: 169 hospitalised cases: 14 New Admissions, 3 Asymptomatic cases, 116 mild-to-moderate cases, 42 severe cases and 8 cases in Intensive Care Unit. A total of 2 416 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 4 244 787. A total of 2 667 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 3 272 926. A total of 1 119 people received their 3rd dose of vaccine shots bringing the cumulative for 3rd doses to 43 892. Active cases went down to 9 128. The recovery rate rises to 94%. The total number of recoveries went up to 214 108 increasing by 809 recoveries. The death toll went up to 5 305 after 11 deaths were recorded.
Critical Emerging Issue
Protecting Frontline Workers and Uninterrupted Access to Healthcare Services
We are concerned by the reports highlighting that the number of health workers testing positive for COVID-19 throughout the country. This is distressing as we note that more and more health workers continue to be infected by the deadly virus on a daily basis. We therefore amplify concerns over the safety of health workers nationwide.
- We therefore reiterate the prioritisation of the safety of frontline workers, as this impacts on the country’s level of success and efficiency towards containment of the pandemic.
- We urge provision of adequate PPE and training of all frontline responders regarding handling of this ever-evolving COVID-19 virus, in order to minimize their risk of exposure.
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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe