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Will Covid-19 affect live shows in Zim?

in the groove:with Fred Zindi

As we all know, coronavirus is getting closer to home after the news last week that it had now reached South Africa. The death toll from coronavirus has risen to over 30 000 worldwide.

I think this is an extremely tragic event that is taking place all over the world and I hope it does not affect the music industry in Zimbabwe. I also hope that very soon the scientists will find a way to contain this or cure it all together.

No doubt, live music in Zimbabwe will feel its effects as people begin to panic and try to avoid crowded places. Most musicians in Zimbabwe depend on live concerts for their livelihoods since royalties from CD sales are no longer as lucrative as before. Those musicians who live from gig-to-gig or are resident at night clubs will be the hardest hit. This is indeed a disaster for many working artistes and smaller venues who count on every week’s revenue to stay afloat.

Speaking to journalist Maxwell Sibanda this week, he said: “This is going to be a big challenge to musicians who enjoy supercrowds at their gigs. They might not find an audience when everyone starts to panic. It’s a sad situation”.

Another musician, Herbert Kunaka, had this to say: “Oh my God, this disease is extremely dangerous! If it was HIV and Aids I would know how to avoid it, but with coronavirus, even the innocent are chastised. Wicked, man! The problem is I don’t even know if our government knows what to do with this pandemic. We are struggling to get simple drugs such as painkillers in hospitals. What then would happen if there is demand for equipment and test kits to deal with Covid 19?”

When I asked Keen Mushapaidze, Jah Prayzah’s manager, about how coronavirus might upset the proposed Jah Prayzah album launch on April 3, his response was:

“Yes, we are a bit worried about this Covid-19 outbreak. We are keeping our ears to the ground. Fortunately, the virus has not reached Zimbabwe yet. We only have suspected cases. We are hopeful that the virus won’t affect Zimbabwe. In Italy, they have banned all large crowd gatherings including football matches, but in England because the number of known cases is still low, football matches are currently still going on. So, the situation as it is does not call for postponement. We are going ahead with the album launch.”

Although the situation has not changed much in Zimbabwe, live music, from club shows to major concerts, is beginning to feel the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.

If the situation changes and there is an outbreak in Zimbabwe, it is working-class musicians — many of whom live from gig to gig — who will be the hardest hit.

Across Asia, venues and gatherings of all sizes are shut down. But even in Switzerland all events of over 1 000 people have been banned and France is stopping all indoor gatherings of more than 5 000. Italy, which has experienced close to 400 deaths to date, also recently banned many scheduled activities in view of coronavirus.

American music magazine, Billboard, is publishing an ongoing list of concerts cancelled because of the outbreak.

No such ban has been implemented in America as of yet, even as 36 Covid-19-related deaths were reported and the total identified cases of infected people in the country rose to over 1 000 (the statistics keep changing daily).

In Zimbabwe, it is business as usual at the moment.

No one really knows the arc of the outbreak globally, but most experts agree that it will get worse in the coming days and weeks before it gets better.

I understand Jamaican artiste Anthony B is scheduled to come to Zimbabwe in June, courtesy of 2 Kings Promotions. Many reggae fans have expressed optimism that this winter concert would not be disrupted due to coronavirus.

To the many musicians and the public at large, I will share with you the information I have been given by a medical doctor friend of mine. Here are the precautions that we should take with the hope that they will stop coronavirus affecting us should there be an outbreak in Zimbabwe.

lNo Handshaking! Use a fist bump, slight bow or an elbow bump. Most Rastafarians greet each other using the fist bump. It is cleaner and more hygienic.

lUse only your knuckle to touch light switches. Lift the gas cylinder with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.

lOpen doors with your closed fist or hip. It may sound funny but your open hands are your worst enemy with this virus.Do not grasp the door handles with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door, especially important on bathroom doors.

lUse disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handles of trolleys at supermarkets.

lWash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitiser whenever you return home from any activity that involves locations where other people have been.

lKeep a bottle of sanitiser available at each of your home’s entrances. Also keep a bottle in your car for use after touching contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands. I understand in Britain at the moment, all bottles of sanitisers have disappeared from the shop shelves. Better buy one now before the virus comes to Zimbabwe and keep it safe.

lIf possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!

l Don’t buy any second-hand clothes from overseas (mabhero) as some of them might be contaminated with coronavirus from dead patients. Covid-19 does not die easily. It may take up to 14 days before it is dead. This is why those suspected to be affected need to be quarantined for 14 days.

One thing to take note of is that this virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you, but all the surfaces where these droplets land on are infectious for about a week on average — everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon. This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs). The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth.

Stock up now with disposable surgical masks and use them to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth (We touch our nose/mouth about 90 times a day without knowing it!). This is the only way this virus can infect you —it is lung-specific. The mask will not prevent the virus in a direct sneeze from getting into your nose or mouth — it is only to keep you from touching your nose or mouth.

Stock up now with hand sanitisers and latex/nitrile gloves. The hand sanitisers must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective.

Stock up now with zinc throat lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel any “cold-like” symptoms. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx.

I, as many others do, hope that this pandemic will be reasonably contained, but I personally do not think it will be. Humans have never seen this snake-associated virus before and have no internal defence system against it. Tremendous worldwide efforts are being made to understand the molecular and clinical virology of this virus. Unbelievable molecular knowledge about the genomics, structure, and virulence of this virus has already been achieved, but, there will be no drugs or vaccines available this year to protect us or limit the infection within us. Only symptomatic support is available.

I hope this information will be helpful during this potentially catastrophic pandemic.

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