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Masiyiwa pushes for broad testing alliance

By Staff Reporter

Businessman Strive Masiyiwa has urged Africans to adopt what he calls the “ITTIT” formula to fight the spread of COVID-19 pandemic as governments across the continent gradually ease lockdown restrictions imposed to reign-in the spread of the disease.

Writing on Facebook following his appointment by the African Union as a special envoy to coordinate the Africa private sector initiative for the procurement of personal protective equipment and other essential supplies, Masiyiwa said the key to stopping the disease in its tracks is to adopt the ITTIT formula; inform, test, trace, isolate and treatment as a collaborative effort among the private sector, NGOs, businesses and faith-based organisations.

“We all have to go back to work, if we still have a job, otherwise our families will starve, and our already frail economies will collapse.

“So how do we stop the rapid spread of the disease, other than by lockdowns?

“For me, to reduce the frequency, duration and necessity of lockdowns, the answer is and has always been as follows: inform, test, trace contacts, isolate and treat,” he wrote.

Masiyiwa said there was need to continually inform everyone about the virus, and how easily it spreads.

Furthermore, he said there was need to inform the most vulnerable groups who face the greatest danger from this disease.

“Remember, accurate information is critical, given the persistent misinformation that goes on, especially through social media platforms,” Masiyiwa said.

“The purpose of testing is to find those people who have the infection, and are spreading it to others near them, usually without even knowing that they have it.

“Once you identify people who have tested positive for COVID-19, they must be isolated in a safe place from others, until the virus is out of their system.”

Successful testing and tracing, he said, must lead to finding people who must be isolated and put into a safe and healthy personal lockdown.

Masiyiwa said a reality in Africa is the fact that 56% of the population lives in slums or informal settlements.

Even those who live in proper housing, he continued, are crowded and often have lodgers or share housing with other families.

“In this situation, a single infected person could mean that 10 family members are also infected.

“In a major breakout, which sadly may still happen in some countries, how we deal with those who are infected and suffering at home is going to test our compassion as a society.

“I have urged governments to consider working with religious organisations and NGOs to offer the option, which has to be voluntary to work, of self-isolating in groups at churches, mosques, community centres, schools, supported by faith leaders, NGOs, etc,” he said.

Masiyiwa said his family foundation had partnered with church leaders to set up 20 such centres in case there is a major outbreak.

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