MISA Zimbabwe, a media watchdog, has filed an urgent High Court application for an order compelling key ministries to, to disseminate information on ongoing Covid-19 testing, isolation and treatment programmes.
The Minister of Health and Child Care, Constantino Chiwenga and the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa, are cited in the application as first and second respondents respectively.
Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise. As at 18 January 2021, Zimbabwe has recorded 27 892 confirmed cases, including 17 372 recoveries and 773 deaths.
Just yesterday, 60 people were recorded to have died from the virus, which turned out to be the deadliest so far since the virus was first recorded in March 2020.
In its application, MISA Zimbabwe says the information and reportage being disseminated on the current public health situation in the country is incomplete, uninformative, and inadequate.
In that regard, MISA Zimbabwe contends the current information fails to take into consideration the requirements of all citizens in Zimbabwe.
“There is no information advising the public of the new variant of COVID-19, its pathology and whether such variant has been detected in Zimbabwe.
“In fact, there is no information as to whether the 1st Respondent is even testing for the new COVID-19 variant. The amount of cross-border interaction with South Africa makes Zimbabwe particularly susceptible to exposure” says MISA Zimbabwe in its application.
Health officials are mum on the new variant, which is believed to be the reason behind so many deaths in recent weeks. There have been no official reports of it having been recorded in Zimbabwe.
According to researchers at the World Health Organisation, the variant is 50% more transmittable and deadlier than the first known virus.
MISA Zimbabwe also highlighted that there is a lack of information on how many people are testing positive to the virus at privately-owned health institutions,
“Critically there is no information as to the statistics emanating from private health care providers such as the number of tests that have been conducted by such facilities, the attendant results, various aggregation of those results around gender age and location.
“All this information is critical in regards to public awareness and well as delimiting the true state of the public health emergency.”
MISA further stated that there is still no information on the nature and quantity of equipment available in the designated public and private institutions in Zimbabwe to deal with the resurgent pandemic.
“We are in a second and more dangerous wave of the virus and it is important that the public is made aware of the state of preparedness,” says MISA Zimbabwe.
This application comes on the backdrop of an earlier one filed by the organisation in April 2020 wherein the High Court ordered the two ministries to ‘publish and disseminate on all available platforms, the daily COVID-19 updates in all the official languages.’