By Dr Johannes Marisa
Today, the world continues to be torn apart by the notorious Covid-19 and it is sad that close to 3.4 million people have since lost their lives.
About 162 million people are documented to have suffered from Covid-19, a figure which has the potential to be even less than 20% of the real statistics.
So many countries are not doing robust testing because of lack of resources while in some areas, accessibility is difficult.
Many people are talking of numerous phases of the pandemic and the associated virulence, hence the incessant need for vigilance.
Everyone has noted the dingy scenarios of India where people are now throwing bodies into rivers because the crematoria cannot cope with pressure.
This is sad for sure as human lives are lost easily, a development that is deeply depressing.
It was three days ago when our country recorded two positive cases who had just returned from India.
This alone should be a strong signal that the game is near as the Indian variant B1.617 has been shown to have high transmissibility.
It is fast and on many occasions, can evade the vaccines. These returnees were not alone in the plane, they touched many surfaces during their long trip from India and now we will be recipients of the dangerous variant.
It is very difficult to avoid viruses, but we can take some obvious measures to contain them so that we do not continue to fall prey to them.
The second wave that struck us in January 2021 was just callous and getting another unrelenting wave more serious than the second wave will be calamitous forever. We ought to be extra careful as a nation and the nation should be reminded about the following:
n That South Africa has started to experience the third wave of Covid-19 and it again started with the arrival of returnees from India.
It is not surprising that Mzansi has started to recorded at least 3 000 cases of Covid-19 per day, an alarming figure considering that just three weeks ago, daily figures were as low as 500 cases.
We all know that with close to 3 million Zimbabweans being in South Africa, any afflictions which affect South Africa may extend to us as immediate neighbour. Let us keep our eyes open lest we perish in the midst of denial and false heroism.
n That many people are now neglecting public health measures like social distancing, masking up, hand-washing and sanitisation which may breed misery in the few weeks to come.
We ought to remain alert as a nation, but mere observation of what is happening especially in the high-density suburbs leaves a lot to be desired.
We want to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed in case of an attack so the best thing to rush to is to flatten the epidemiological curve while raising the line. If many people are going to be infected at the same time, we have a high risk of fatalities as medical staff may fail to cope with pressure.
n That those who were sceptical about the Sinopharm vaccine were left with egg on the face. The government of Zimbabwe was very quick to act by sending a whole plane to collect the first batch of 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.
So many conspiracy theories were thrown around about the Chinese vaccines with some postulating that China wanted to eliminate Africans. We came to realise that the Sinopharm was one of the safest vaccines and has not been associated with reported blood clots. South Africa tried the Oxford-made AstraZeneca vaccine, but stopped it after realising that the dominant strain of the Covid-19 at that time, 501 V2, was resistant to the vaccine.
It was to pursue the Johnson and Johnson vaccine that uses recombinant DNA technology, but halted on the way after reports of fulminant blood clots before resuming again. Many people therefore lost confidence in the vaccination process. A lot of South Africans have been reported to be crossing to our country to seek vaccination. Today, close to 600 000 people have at least received a single dose of the vaccine in Zimbabwe.
n That people should never be complacent at this juncture. It is time that health education be given as much as possible and mass media should drive the information dissemination process. There are some of us who now think that Covid-19 never appeared and who are very much sure that the virus will not hit them. We need to be reminded that we are not yet out of trouble and any slight mistakes can result in calamity.
Keep yourself safe. Know again that Covid-19 is knocking on our doors, so be careful wherever you are.
- Dr Johannes Marisa is a medical practitioner and public health practitioner who can be accessed on firstname.lastname@example.org