Arrests, tests and lockdown in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Indefinite lockdown started on Level 2 on 4 May 2020, in a context in which Zimbabwe has not reached the WHO standards for lifting of lockdown. • Regionally, there are increasing concerns about whether lockdown infringes citizens’ rights including the right to earn a living. • Zimbabwe initially locked down in good time to contain the virus, but may lose the advantage if health facilities are not quickly upgraded, and ways found to stem virus transmission without driving citizens into worse poverty and hunger. • By 27 May, there had been more arrests than tests: this points to a greater concentration on punishment than on education of citizens – and also to the fact that vast numbers of citizens remain prepared to risk arrest and/or infection, as a lesser evil than starvation. It is of great concern that by 4 June, just as the virus was taking hold nationally, with numbers trebling between 25 and 28 May, there was NOT ONE dedicated government institution offering effective isolation and ICU care for critically ill Covid 19 in Bulawayo – a city that is the referral point for five provinces – the three Matabeleland provinces, Masvingoand Midlands. More than two months into lockdown, this is hard to understand. • There have been several instances of state abuses of civilians under lockdown. • Neither Thorngrove nor Ekusileni are ready for Covid 19 patients, and CEO of Mpilo has expressed concern about having cases there because of the possibility of cross infection. •

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