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Zimbabwe Situation Report, 21 May 2020

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • The first imported COVID-19 case was reported on 21 March 2020 with local transmission starting on 24 March. As of 19 May, 46 COVID-19 cases were confirmed, including four deaths.

  • Nearly 4,900 Zimbabwean migrants have returned from neighbouring countries since beginning of April.
    Malaria and typhoid outbreaks create an additional burden to an already fragile health system.

  • The number of pellagra cases reported in the first quarter of 2020 doubled to 482, compared to 264 cases reported in the same period in 2019.

Situation Overview

The United Nations and humanitarian partners have revised the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) to include response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The COVID-19 Addendum requires US$84.9 million to respond to the immediate public health crisis and the secondary impacts of the pandemic on vulnerable people, in addition to the $715 million required in the HRP.

The 2020 Zimbabwe Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), launched on 2 April 2020, indicates that 7 million people in urban and rural areas are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance across Zimbabwe, compared to 5.5 million in August 2019. Since the launch of the Revised Humanitarian Appeal in August 2019, circumstances for millions of Zimbabweans have worsened. Drought and crop failure, exacerbated by macro-economic challenges and austerity measures, have directly affected vulnerable households in both rural and urban communities. Inflation continues to erode purchasing power and affordability of food and other essential goods is a daily challenge. The delivery of health care, clean water and sanitation, and education has been constrained and millions of people are facing challenges to access vital services.

There are more than 4.3 million people severely food insecure in rural areas in Zimbabwe, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, undertaken in February 2020. In addition, 2.2. million people in urban areas, are "cereal food insecure", according to the most recent Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) analysis. Erratic and late 2019/2020 rains forebode the possibility of a second poor harvest. Nutritional needs remain high with over 1.1 million children and women requiring nutrition assistance. At least 4 million vulnerable Zimbabweans are facing challenges accessing primary health care and drought conditions trigger several health risks. Decreasing availability of safe water, sanitation and hygiene have heightened the risk of communicable disease outbreaks for 3.7 million vulnerable people. Some 1.2 million school-age children are facing challenges accessing education. The drought and economic situation have heighten protection risks, particularly for women and children. Over a year after Cyclone Idai hit Zimbabwe in March 2019, 128,270 people remain in need of humanitarian assistance across the 12 affected districts in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces. There are 21,328 refugees and asylum seekers in Zimbabwe who need international protection and multisectoral life-saving assistance to enable them to live in safety and dignity.

As of 19 May, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) in Zimbabwe had reported 46 confirmed COVID-19 cases including four deaths, with cases reported in five provinces. With the first cases reported in Zimbabwe as of 21 March, and the recent increase of COVID-19 transmission in the region, the Government of Zimbabwe is strengthening and accelerating preparedness and response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Following the declaration of COVID-19 as a national disaster on 19 March 2020, the Zimbabwe National Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19 was launched with an initial eight pillars of coordination, the creation of a national COVID-19 Response Task Force and the formation of the Inter-Ministerial Committee as well as several sub-committees.

The Government of Zimbabwe declared a 21-day nationwide lockdown starting on 30 March 2020 ensuring the continuity of essential services. Following an initial extension of two weeks until 3 May, the Government announced the easing of lockdown regulations on 1 May allowing formal industry and commerce to resume operations, with specified measures in effect until 17 May, including mandatory testing and screening of employees whose companies were re-opening or those employees returning back to work for the first time since the initial lockdown. The informal sector as well as other sectors, including education, however remained closed. The lockdown was now been extended indefinitely with a review every two weeks.

From 7 to 17 May 2020, 2,448 Zimbabwe migrants returned from South Africa through the Beitbridge border post, a significant increase compared to 102 returnees in April. In total, 4,878 migrants have returned (3,552 in May and 1,314 in April) from neighbouring countries through the four border posts of Beitbridge, Plumtree, Chirundu and Forbes, since COVID-19 restrictive measures were imposed. After arrival at the border post, returnees are transferred to provincial quarantine facilities nearest to their places of destination, most of which do not have adequate facilities to host returnees.

The country has been facing a malaria outbreak that is creating an additional burden to an already fragile health system. From 1 January to 3 May 2020, 262,968 malaria cases and 246 deaths have been reported. During the week from 27 April to 3 May, a total of 26,103 malaria cases and 20 deaths were reported, with the highest number of cases being recorded in Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East provinces.

In addition to the commitments to the HRP recorded above through the Financial Tracking System (FTS), a number of pledges are in the process of being finalized. This includes $13 million from the European Commission for which a call for proposals has been launched, $44 million COVID-19 funding announced by the UK Ambassador, and a further $20 million CERF allocation to WFP for Social Protection programming.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.