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If the rest of the world is putting up shutters, why is Zim still open?


editorial comment

THE World Health Organisation this week finally announced that COVID-19, which has been sweeping across the world is now a pandemic.

In the past few days several countries abroad and in the region, instituted more stringent measures to guard against the COVID-19 which is not showing signs of abetting any time soon.

US President Donald Trump effected the European travel ban, indirectly admitting that the disease was now becoming too difficult to manage.

His own government’s head of infectious diseases, Anthony Fauci, admitted that protocols under which doctors requested tests for patients were not working and that the system was not really geared to what is needed right now.

The US is one of the biggest superpowers, but the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 132 500 people and killed nearly 5 000 globally, is proving too much for it despite all its technology.

The next three tournaments on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LGPA) Tour — including the first women’s golf major of the year have been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

This global scenario when juxtaposed with what is happening in Zimbabwe brings critical questions to the fore.

So the government has told the nation through the Health minister Obadiah Moyo and even President Emmerson Mnangagwa to stay calm.

But we ask again, do we have what it takes to tackle the disease head-on if it swings our way? There are just too many loopholes which any government should be working hard on to make sure its citizens are protected.

It was quite shocking but not really a surprise when the Health Parliamentary Portfolio Committee exposed the wishy-washy measures at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

Then of concern again are the conflicting statements that are being made by officials whom we should be looking up to for answers and solutions, the Health minister at some point claims ARVs will be used to treat COVID-19 but Harare City Council health services director Prosper Chonzi says antibiotics will do just fine.

And in less than two weeks the Easter and school holidays will be upon us and the Beitbridge Border Post will become a hive of activity. Thousands of children will be going across to see their parents working in South Africa which to date has recorded 16 confirmed cases.

Gabon and Ghana confirmed their first cases of coronavirus on Thursday, becoming the ninth and tenth country respectively in sub-Saharan Africa to register positive cases. Kenya recorded its first on Friday becoming the eleventh country.

So why are we panicking, well it’s pretty obvious that people can now tell that Zimbabwe is not only ill-prepared but is denying that it needs help to set up structures that will ensure that should there be a case it is dealt with.

Public transporters have not been cautioned to have sanitisers on their buses and yet thousands of people use these to go to work. In Kenya anyone who is coughing should stay at home. But in Zimbabwe it is business as usual, visitors from all over the world are still pouring in with minimum restrictions.

We should learn from the mistakes that Trump made when he tried to portray a calm façade in a bid to calm the markets. It exploded in his face and the US now seems outwitted by the disease.

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  1. The challenge editors have is that they approach health issues from a political angle. In terms of the antibiotics being used, they are to prevent further bacterial infection, antivirals such as kaletra are also used but used in combination with medication used to relax the constricted airways which makes it hard to breathe.

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