health talk:with Dr Johannes Marisa
Coronavirus will surely be history at one point as what has been happening with other pandemics that we have come to know. While some argue that there are even seemingly heavier diseases than coronavirus, those who follow medicine can tell you that pandemics are dangerous and highly suffocating because the end is usually a guess, with no one really sure of where to land. What can start as a single death can end with 100 million deaths. It happened in 1968 in Hong Kong where the Hong Kong flu killed close to four million people in one year. The H1N1 virus in 1918 wiped out close to 50 million people within two years.
Why all this hullabaloo about coronavirus?
Coronavirus, like all other viruses, has no specific cure. The COVID-19 is a novel virus, which needs to be understood first before even coming with a vaccine or some specific anti-viral drugs. This is why social media is awash with fake news of how to eliminate the virus, with “friends of alcohol” postulating that taking alcohol will protect someone. All this is mere rhetoric. This makes life difficult for everyone from the clinicians to the researchers or scientists.
The way of transmission is quite unique with droplets being the main danger. This means coughing and sneezing is hazardous to those surrounding you. The other danger is that some people can go for even two to three weeks without harbouring any symptoms yet they can still transmit to the next person. The reproductive number is between one and four, which means one person who is positive has the potential to infect between one and four people. This now means gatherings are no longer attractive as they can naturally become breeding ground. How many gatherings are we supposed to be at even in April? Weddings were booked, Easter holidays were booked, overseas trips paid for. What a calamity! The most worrisome characteristic of this virus is that in some cases, despite the availability of medical drugs, equipment and sundries, still the disease can complicate to give lung fibrosis, pneumonia, renal failure and finally death.
lSo many costs are involved in the fight against coronavirus. We are told China disinfects Hubei City twice a day. How much is involved? The money cannot be counted. Was this money not supposed to be channelled for development? This is sad!
lBorders have been closed in so many countries leaving so many people stranded. Air traffic has been reduced with negative consequences on the employment rate globally. Italy has been losing an average of 300 people per day for the past six days, making it a fragile country at the moment together with China, Iran, France and Spain.
lSocial amenities have been drastically affected with other sports fixtures being cancelled yet they are always sources of entertainment in the world. Where will people relax peacefully then?
lCancellation of gatherings like churches, weddings is not an easy decision for many believers. Holy matrimony is always liked. What can we do?
Anyway, the talk will never end about coronavirus. There are some things we ought to take note of if we are to succeed as Zimbabwe. The following are some of them:
lWe need a strong public health system that has competent staff — clinicians should be capacitated to deal with the virulence of the virus. Sundries, and medicines should be available in all circles, be they local clinics, surgeries or hospitals.
lCoordination should be available at all levels of medical care, irrespective of whether one clinician is in the private or public sector.
lTesting kits should be within reach if we are to win the war quite easily. It should, therefore, be the duty of government in partnership with the donor community to source some of the basic needs in the coronavirus war.
lAll medical staff should at least have some basic knowledge about how to handle coronavirus cases. Disinfectants like Dettol, Jik, and hand sanitisers should be readily available in all medical centres. Upon suspicion of the virus, at least sterilising all surfaces will help to a certain extent.
lSystematic way of reporting suspected cases should be a priority. Common symptoms like high temperature, coughing, chest pains and shortness of breath should be known. However, panic can lead people into more misery.
lIt should be a norm to know about coronavirus, spread the message
Till next week!
lDr Johannes Marisa is a medical doctor, a public health expert and educationist who can be accessed on firstname.lastname@example.org.