COVID-19: Ignorance can wipe out everyone

guest column:Johannes Marisa

It is tragic to start to lose prominent and promising young entrepreneurs like the late Zororo Makamba. It is unimaginable and gut-wrenching considering the few number of reported cases of coronavirus in Zimbabwe. May his soul rest in peace! That’s what life is all about. I understand the agony everyone is going through.

My heart bleeds about coronavirus. If the level of ignorance continues unabated in our country, then we are just a few weeks behind Italy. Italy is now trembling, with virtually nothing much to offer as an average of 600 people die every day despite the sophisticated medical equipment, masks, sundries, ventilators, oxygen, drugs and other state-of-the-art machines. We do not have the same resources which all of us here agree, we are quite inferior as a nation.

The USA suddenly noted a meteoric rise in cases, what started as isolated cases in America are now giving a torrid time to the entire nation as more than 40 000 cases are recorded and mortality now stands at more than 500. Everyone should know that it took more than six weeks to reach the first 100 000 cases of COVID-19, about three weeks to reach the second 100 000 cases and a mere four days to reach the third 100 000. Where are we heading to? If this cataclysmic speed of spreading continues, then we are doomed.

Ignorance will trample and strangulate all of us in Zimbabwe. Ignorance is defined as lack of knowledge. I happened to pass through one of the braai centres on Sunday and what I witnessed was a public health atrocity. People were busy braaing, hugging and shaking hands the old way. Music was being played loudly and I became the odd one out with my mask.

Everyone looked perplexed by my appearance. What touched me was the false information the merry makers had. People were self-convinced that coronavirus does not kill Africans and that it requires some bit of alcohol to pacify its virulence.

All this is mere nonsense and is a recipe for disaster in the fight against the scourge. We need to understand the gravity of this disease if we are to contain it.

Funny utterances and minacious lies will not help against this moronic virus which threatens the entire world from the political, economic, social and medical fronts.

For our country, knowing very well the low levels of health incapacitation, it is prudent that we totally avoid contracting the coronavirus from the start.

That should be everyone’s aim at the moment. Waiting to be attacked first because one wants to be a drinking paragon, will be catastrophic. President Emmerson Mnangangwa, has swiftly moved to encourage social distancing. He has closed schools and universities including banning all public gatherings now of more than 50 people. The chief justice has banned all weddings with immediate effect. That is very noble and should be applauded by all sober-minded people in our country. We grew up parroting that prevention is better than cure and that should stand if we are dealing with COVID-19. It will be a cumbersome and hulking task to manage complications of COVID-19 like respiratory distress as a result of lung fibrosis.

There is no heroism in defying simple orders of social distancing. Unnecessary movements should be avoided and if the country is to shut down, and it has to in order to slow down the speed of transmission of this calamitous virus. It is not the President who will benefit alone, but he is trying to knock some sense in people that coronavirus is real and terribly dangerous.

Let us heed our government calls. Ignorance can wipe our beloved Zimbabwe!

The Ministry of Health should categorically inform the nation about the exact gravity of the disease. As it stands today, it seems Zimbabwe has only three cases, but no one informs us about the traced contacts and their results. All is deafening silence. There is no way that the contacts have not been tested and where are the results? This deficiency of information is forcing people to ignore even executive orders. Some still believe COVID-19 is not even next to us. What a pity! I would encourage our dear Ministry to release more information for the betterment of everyone.

The health workers need to know, whether in private or public practice. We need to prepare and take appropriate action in case we meet a COVID-19 case.

COVID-19 needs a robust response team and capacitating all health workers is the key, not only Wilkins Hospital in Harare, I repeat! surgeries and clinics are the first ports of call by patients, but they can become a hub of transmission if they are incapacitated.

It is high time these centres are equipped with protective clothing, gloves and other basic sundries if the fight against COVID-19 is to be won. Ignorance can eliminate us all. COVID-19 needs serious decentralised action.

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