by the UN Resident / Humanitarian Coordinator
On January 30, 2020, the Director General of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Globally, hundreds of thousands of people have been infected and thousands have lost their lives.
Since then, the number of cases has been rising steadily. Though the outbreak is still evolving in Zimbabwe, the potential impact of intense community transmission remains high. The pandemic is the biggest health crisis facing the world today and its social and economic impacts are threatening to undermine development gains and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The preliminary impacts show that the country’s healthcare system is likely be stretched further. In addition, the public health response measures to contain the pandemic have shown that, while necessary, they have also led to a disruption of economic activities and livelihoods resulting in increased poverty and vulnerability. More crucially, the pandemic is affecting socio-economic and gender groups differently with women, children, poor households, persons with disabilities and people living with HIV and AIDS most adversely affected. Without urgent collective responses to address the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, suffering will escalate, endangering lives and livelihoods for years to come.