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COVID-19: Ignore at your own peril

BY JOHANNES MARISA

IT’S sooner than later that we will realise that COVID-19 is striking us again. It is not long since the January 2021 COVID-19 developments re-emerge.

We do not like the unfortunate scenarios to recur, but it is surely beyond our control as humans, hence the need to take corrective action as the calamitous virus is fast approaching. We do not want to experience the Indian scenario where fatalities have scaled scary heights.

This is the same country that has witnessed bodies of COVID-19 victims floating in the Ganges River, an unfortunate situation which has not been seen in any other country.

That alone is a bad omen for the whole world as India has potential to spread the virus to all the nations of the universe considering its poor health infrastructure in the rural areas coupled with the overcrowding.

Today, neighbouring South Africa is in trouble again with both morbidity and mortality on the rise. Zambia and Namibia are in a quandary as the heinous virus wreaks havoc.

Countries are at various stages of the pandemic and the associated virulence, hence the urgent need for vigilance.

We need to be alert about the third wave, an imminent wave that has potential to tear the world apart. We do hope it is not the Indian B1.617 variant with high transmissibility among the young ages of between 20 and 30 in India. Those without comorbidities are in equal trouble, a development which is different from the previous attacks where the old were more at risk than the younger generation.

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 callous, hence getting another unrelenting wave more than the second one will be calamitous. We ought to be extra careful and the nation should be reminded about the following:

  • That Africa is under siege from the virus at the moment with many countries raising the red flag. Uganda has gone into a 42-day lockdown while Namibia has started reporting overwhelmed facilities. Zambia has seen daily cases going beyond 1 000, something rare for many African countries considering poor collation of data and low testing.

The margin of error in Africa should be raised to 900% if the continent is to carry out a more accurate situational analysis. We all know that with close to three million Zimbabweans in South Africa, any afflictions which affect South Africa may extend to us.

Inasmuch as we quarantine those from India, we should bear in mind that there are many border jumpers coming from South Africa via illegal entry points like Chiqualaquala, Gezani, Beitbridge.

Let us keep our eyes open lest we perish due to denial and false heroism.

  • That many people are no longer observing public health measures like social distancing, masking up, hand-washing and sanitisation may result in disaster in few weeks to come. We ought to remain alert as a nation, but what is happening especially in the high-density suburbs leaves a lot to be desired.

We want to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed, so the best thing is to ensure we flatten the curve. If many people are going to be infected at the same time, we have a high risk of having  many fatalities as medical staff may fail to cope with pressure.

  • Gatherings should remain banned. It should be noted that the Indian government erred when it allowed political and religious gatherings and on March 8 2021, the Health minister declared that India was now free from COVID-19 despite warnings a week earlier by experts that the country was on the verge of being hit by a more virulent strain.

The way people are behaving in Zimbabwe leaves a lot to be desired. Hey, the third wave is already upon us and people should report symptoms and signs early. Denialism should never be entertained as it results in delay in seeking treatment.

Self-treatment should never be allowed to go beyond a few days if patients are not showing marked improvement. Remember COVID-19 causes septic shock, thromboembolism, renal impairment, respiratory distress syndrome and patients may require oxygen or ventilation.

In Zimbabwe, at least 600 000 people have received a single COVID-19 jab. A lot of South Africans have been reported to be crossing into our country to seek vaccination.

lThat people should never be complacent at this juncture. It is time to impart health education as much as possible and the mass media should drive the information dissemination process. There are some of us who now think that COVID-19 never happened and are very convinced that the virus will not hit them.

We need to be reminded that we are not yet out of trouble and any slight mistake can result in calamity.

Keep yourself safe. Know again that COVID-19 is with us and it will not be long before you start noticing friends and relatives or yourself in trouble as what happened in January.

  • Johannes Marisa is president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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