NO one wants to leave this world, so all of us should make sure we remain safe. Living conditions may differ but we need to survive. COVID-19 has caused harm to many people with so much of both physical and emotional effects. The unfortunate part is that the coronavirus has been hitting in phases or waves, making it hard to predict and plan against it. There have been many mutant strains of the virus, some of which have been quite virulent. That is the sad part of COVID-19, a virus that has taken the lives of many friends I used to interact with.
After the second wave of the virus swept through southern Africa in January 2020, everyone thought that the virus was on its way out. The demonic virus was busy preparing ammunition in the northern countries of the world with the United States, Brazil, India, Germany, Argentina losing many people.
Indeed, the most developed nations were the most hit in the world and many people were taught the lesson that public health discipline is what is needed if mitigation and containment are to be successful.
Our southern Africa has witnessed a sudden upsurge in cases with South Africa leading. It is not a secret that countries like Namibia, Botswana and Zambia are facing their worst predicament since the emergence of the coronavirus in 2019. Namibia has been overrun by the virus and my colleague who works there admits that clinics and hospitals are turning away patients with low saturations because of shortage of admission space.
Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga has moved in with the first raft of measures in order to combat the spread of the virus. The measures are very necessary and no African country would want to be at an epidemiological position similar to that of Mzanzi where more than 8 000 cases of COVID-19 are recorded daily with a daily mortality of at least 120.
If urgent action is not taken against the virus, then there will be untold misery in a few days to come. A lot of people were complacent, with many not masking up, sanitising, hand-washing, social distancing. I attended a funeral in Nyajena, Masvingo a week ago and got surprised that many people were still doing handshakes, while masks were nowhere in sight and gathering is still very common. I took time to impart health education in a bid to eradicate myths, conspiracy theories and scepticism.
It is an incontrovertible truth that our country has fared well in terms of COVID-19 control. Yes, some of our citizens have succumbed to the heinous virus but not like what is happening in Brazil. India has lost thousands in the last five weeks and the high morbidity and mortality in that country is in proportion to its high population of more than 1,4 billion people. It is my belief that timely COVID-19 control regulations are needed to keep the virus under control.
Delays in putting public health measures in place will surely pose a threat to humanity with more resources now being required to secure hospital sundries like gloves, syringes, needles, oxygen, drugs et cetera. It is thus imperative that we take cognisance of the following:
That restrictions are for the benefit of the nation at large and we should support such measures if COVID-19 is not to overrun us. We should not wait till we are medically incapacitated to take appropriate action. Prevention is surely better than cure.
The nation should scale up testing and contact tracing if we are to be on top of the situation. For strategic planning purposes, it is wise to get accurate data in order to generate reliable information which is important for planning. The localised lockdowns that have been put in place have helped by limiting the infections but human movement has continued to take place, hence infections are now on the rise.
It is time to have well-equipped clinics and hospitals so that our people will not run short of drugs and oxygen at the climax of the third wave. Oxygen is very important in COVID-19 control and this commodity should always be available if we are to win the war against respiratory distress syndrome when patients’ saturations go down to less than 80%.
Staff should be well-prepared to face the calamitous virus for the third time. Medical personnel should be psyched up given the trauma and depression many went through during the second wave in January.
It is time for extra motivation to be availed including incentives and packages such as car loans, duty-free certificates, residential stands, improved salaries and allowances. For sure, medical staffers are the doyens of the current global health society.
The private health sector is very key and failure to recognise and respect private health practitioners would be remiss on our part.