From the Zimbabwe Council of Churches
The first case of COVID-19 can be traced back to the 17th of November 2019, according to media reports on unpublished Chinese government data. The report, found in the South China Morning Post, indicates that Chinese authorities had identified at least 266 people who had contracted the virus last year and who came under medical surveillance. Thus the earliest case was that date– which was weeks before authorities announced the emergence of the new virus. It was not until February 14th, 2020 that the first case in Africa was reported, in Egypt. Even then, the first case in Southern Africa was only reported in South Africa on March 5, 2020. By then, Zimbabweans began to realise that they too were at risk. Indeed, on March 20, 2020, Zimbabwe recorded its first case.
The inevitable landing of the virus on Zimbabwean territory required some level of preparedness. The Government begun to seriously work to ensure that the country was aware of the virus. Regulatory frameworks were put in place to minimise the spread of the virus. The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) also coordinated a plan to prepare the church and the citizens to deal with this challenge. Therefore, this report covers the efforts that ZCC has made through its member churches in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as of 3 April 2020. The report is a culmination of daily updates from all the ten provinces in Zimbabwe generated by the ZCC’s local ecumenical fellowships (LEFs). The Ecumenical Response is hinged on four intervention areas:
a) Prevention through awareness raising on the virus to members churches and the general public through provision of protective clothing and sanitizers as well as targeted training.
b) Service delivery (WASH) through provision of water at selected Mission Hospitals
c) Policy advocacy where the Church continues to engage key stakeholders on health such as the relevant Government departments, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and others
d) Coordination of efforts on the pandemic. This is meant to ensure that there is coordination in the response mechanism between the Government and other stakeholders for transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness.
Thus, the report covers the activities carried out between 23 March and 3 April 2020 where the focus was to design an effective church response mechanism to the threat of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe. Regular updates will be shared with key stakeholders for policy improvement and continued awareness raising.