BY DR JOHANNES MARISA
A lot has been written and said about Covid-19 during the past 15 months. Myths, conspiracy theories and untold beliefs have dominated the social media chats surrounding the coronavirus.
So many people have succumbed to Covid-19 and as of last Friday, at least 2, 703 million people globally had lost their lives with more than 122 million having been infected with the virus.
Zimbabwe has lost at least 1 509 people with at least 36 661 having been infected. The virus has not gone yet and it is sad that Europe has announced the emergence of the third wave in countries like Italy, France and Poland to mention just but a few.
In 2020, Europe experienced the second wave around September of the same year and many people thought that the wave was not going to extend to Africa as the virus seemed to have subsided. It was in December when our country was hit hard with Covid-19 and January was a thorn for the nation as many people battled with the virus. So many lives were lost and the list is just but endless. May all their souls rest in peace.
With countries such as Brazil, Italy and the United States on fire with unbearable numbers of cases, this might be a pointer that soon, we may face the same predicament and it is likely that we may be hit in the coming eight weeks. While we appreciate government efforts to resuscitate the economy by lifting restrictions, our people should not relax and assume that Covid-19 has gone yet it is wreaking havoc in the developed world today. Instead, this should be the time for correction of the ills that befell us during the second wave of the Covid-19 attack. The policymakers, administrators, medical practitioners and pharmaceutical suppliers should all plan together now and come up with high degrees of preparedness as the third wave is impending.
This is the time to plan about life-saving measures and to know that complacency is just monstrous behaviour that can result in unnecessary deaths. Some of the following can be undertaken as of now:
Vaccine advocacy so that the rollout programme becomes a success. It will be an embarrassment for the vaccines to expire merely because the targeted beneficiaries are reluctant to take the vaccines. Vaccination has been of great importance in the fight against pandemics if both the 1957 and 1968 pandemics are to be given as examples. The nation has to target a significant percentage of the people to be vaccinated so that herd immunity is achieved. Shunning the vaccines will not be in the interests of the public as the virus can remain in circulation for long with serious consequences.
Expansion of admitting space: There was limited admitting space in many hospitals especially in Harare where a lot of patients were in need of oxygen, intravenous drugs and fluids, to mention just but a few. Have we improved on anything yet as a nation or we are still stationary?
What if we get a third wave attack which is worse than the second wave? We ought to start our preparations now so we avoid unnecessary losses of lives. Oxygen tanks should be increased in numbers and access to this valuable resource should be made easy. Covid-19 is a reality and seems far from over.
Intensify health education: lt is still a pity that there are some citizens who still do not appreciate that Covid-19 is still with us and a menace to the nation at large. The rural populace still requires intensified health education as people are still doing handshakes at funerals and hand-washing is taboo for many. Rural deaths have often been handled by village heads who authorise burials without doing the Covid-19 tests, meaning some of the suspicious deaths can be unknowingly due to Covid-19. What if the rural population is hit with the third wave in the midst of ignorance and absence of some of the necessary drugs used in the fight against Covid-19?
It has been of great concern that there are some schools that are taking advantage of the prevalence of Covid-19 to milk parents of their hard-earned money by charging US$25 for Covid-19 tests. One of the schools is in Bindura and such schools should be investigated. I am not sure how a one-off rapid test will be of value to the school considering the low sensitivity of the rapid tests. It is quite appalling that many people do not do the correct things in public health. It was last week when I witnessed closed toilets at one of the fastfood outlets along Samora Machel Avenue. The supervisor responded that he was worried about Covid-19, hence the reason to close the toilet. Surprisingly, some people were seen relieving themselves under trees just outside. What health are we talking about in such a scenario?
Keep yourself safe, Covid-19 is still a menace!