By Johannes Marisa
The demoniacal virus has hit our country heavily with Friday recording a record 102 deaths. Both the morbidity and mortality trends are not pleasing at all considering how lowly-resourced we are as a country. The same can be said of Zambia, Namibia, South Africa and Uganda that have all felt the heat of Covid-19 recently.
Attitude, perception and behavior seem to contribute to the worsening of Covid-19. It is a detestable truth that more people are going to be infected in the near future if some of our actions are allowed to persist. The loathsome virus will surely hit us heavily with many casualties. Our country has just imported two million more vaccine doses from China, making it one of the fastest movers in Africa in terms of the inoculation drive.
The Spanish flu of 1918-1920 attacked the world in four waves and Covid-19 today is in its third wave, a wave that is showing distress signals with serious threat on humanity. The third wave has many active strains of the coronavirus, but the most stubborn of them is the delta variant (formerly Indian) which is characterised by high transmissibility, fast-patient deterioration, high oxygen demand plus many casualties. It is a sad development for Africa considering how underdeveloped health infrastructure is.
Measures should surely be put in place in order to urgently flatten the curve. It is sad as all age groups are infected and affected with serious impact on the political, economic and social aspects of humanity. The sad observation is that the virus seems to slip under our noses and many of the infections occur under our watch as our behaviour determines the extent of the infections. What is needed is mere discipline and consequent compliance with the stipulated public health measures if we are to be at a gratifying position. The end seems far. It is not easy to lose companions unexpectedly especially to something that one does not have direct control over.
Zimbabwe has started to experience a torrid time with hospitals raising the red flag over admission space already. It is sad to note that the virus is now moving like whirlwind, with virtually all towns and cities sending distress calls. The unfortunate part is that despite all these infections, the general populace is not as serious as they were during the second wave, raising fears that we may be heading for a medical catastrophe. The diabetics are in big trouble and it is my advice that these patients should not be wholly attended to in their homes.
We have noted, as foot soldiers, why many people are succumbing to Covid-19 in this third wave. Yes, we are a poor country but we have managed to stem the virus to a greater extent despite the limited resources in the country. The medical personnel has shown apodictic and tenacious determination in order to save as many lives. Attitude is a settled way of thinking or feeling about something while behaviour refers to the way one acts or conducts oneself especially towards others. It is, therefore, imperative to note that many people are complicating due to Covid-19 merely because of negative attitudes and untoward behaviour. The current third wave surely needs discipline, but alas, we seem far from that at the moment. Why honestly should superspeader events like the Johane Marange festival be allowed to go ahead for 14 days at this juncture? We are shooting ourselves in the foot and the consequences will be too ghastly to contemplate.
Continuous self-treatment should not be allowed: Remind diabetics to take Covid-19 seriously and report symptoms early. Many patients whom we see in bad states require oxygen because of respiratory distress syndrome. It is not a good idea that patients self-treat without the advice of medical personnel who should encourage them to have regular oxygen saturation checks with a pulse oximeter. Patients who are presenting with oxygen saturation less than 60% in this third wave stand very little chance of surviving unless high flow oxygen is given. Why then wait for oxygen saturation to go below 80% while watching at home? The delta variant is merciless and seems intolerant to many common treatment modalities.
Good attitude should be encouraged: Many people tend to play the blame game for their own failures. When vaccines were first introduced, many people shunned them yet they were given for free. After realising that it was mere disinformation and misinformation surrounding the vaccines, there was a scramble to acquire them. Our country was one of the fastest movers in Africa and by now we could have been somewhere had we embraced the vaccination earlier.
Medical advice should be appropriate: There are so many people who do not take medical advice because they believe in their tradition, qualifications or social status. Covid-19 has no boundaries and visits anyone. The degree of denialism is flabbergasting with such people ending up rejecting Covid-19 testing and subsequent treatment only to meet their fate in a few days to come. When your clinician advises you to get tested, please embrace that with pleasure.
lRespect medical personnel: Many people have ill-conceived beliefs that with the use of the internet, they can now match medical staff in terms of knowledge which is surely impossible. Internet has provided so many treatment modalities, but one should realise that treatments differ based on the specific presentation, age, race or time. It is thus my advice that medical staff be allowed to execute their duties with liberty.
As a routine reminder, please let us not forget about the following:
lThat our dear Southern Africa region is under serious attack at the moment. What is needed is to upscale our testing and contact tracing. So much in terms of resources should be channelled to the procurement of testing kits. The reality is that there are many Covid-19 cases now roaming around the streets of many towns with medical centres detecting those who present to clinics or surgeries. People need to be reminded that the delta variant does not need delays in seeking treatment. Prolonged steaming is proving futile with many patients developing silent hypoxia with poor prognosis for late disease.
lThat many people are now neglecting public health measures like social distancing, masking up, hand-washing, sanitisation which may breed more misery in few days to come. It is your duty to promote health and masking up is not to evade police arrest, but for your benefit. 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 avoid a health care system catastrophe with unbearable number of cases and deaths, hence the need to flatten the epidemiological curve while raising the line. If many people are going to be infected at the same time, we have high risk of fatalities as medical staff may fail to cope with pressure.
lThis is the time for robust health education. Mass media should play critical roles in information dissemination. Many people are complacent yet the virus is ravaging across the country with the unfortunate developments of affecting the rural populace, especially in Mashonaland West province. The way people are now behaving in Zimbabwe leaves a lot to be desired with some arguing that there is no more Covid-19 in the country. Hey, the attack is already on us and people should learn to report symptoms and signs early. Self-treatment should never be allowed to go beyond many days if patients are not showing marked improvements. Remember Covid-19 causes septic shock, thrombo-embolism, renal impairment, respiratory distress syndrome and complicated patients would require oxygen or ventilation.
Assume that all flu is Covid-19 until proven otherwise. Please report symptoms early and be suspicious when you have a sore throat, cough, hot body, headache, loss of taste, joint pains, fatigability and loss of smell among others. All age groups are in trouble with the delta variant.