COVID-19: Let us support our children as they return to school

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By Johannes Marisa

IT came as sweet news for many as government moved to ease COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday. Expectant brides and grooms are celebrating as they expect to cut the cake soon. COVID-19 gave us a torrid time and the month of July was the most miserable accounting for one third of all COVID-19 deaths.

That was the third wave fuelled by the Delta variant, a merciless strain which used to be called the Indian variant. Many countries are reporting a surge in new infections and the same Delta variant is responsible.

South America, USA, many European countries are reeling under the fourth wave, a sign that we are far from over with the COVID-19. There is a very high probability that the fourth wave is on its way to our shores, so we should never be complacent and our behaviour should never throw us into COVID-19 pans taking cognisance of the fact that South Africa and Botswana are in trouble. These are our neighbours and any adverse events in these countries have potential to ignite the entire southern Africa.

Schools were opened for both examination and non-examination classes and this should be good news for everyone. We cannot bask in the glory when our kids spend six months without going to school.

It should be known that COVID-19 is going to be among us for some time and expecting no COVID-19 case at all is mere day-dreaming. It is unfortunate that we find some schools publishing COVID-19 results of their school children and immediately social media is awash with such news, which I think is not necessary as it raises unnecessary alarm.

This is the time to support our children to be back in school if the country is to move forward. If authorities carry out intensive testing at Mbare Musika, do not be surprised to find that at least 10% of the people will be positive.

If we expect zero cases of COVID-19, then we are doomed as there will be no time when there will not be cases if truth be told. COVID-19 will be with us for a long time and the attack waves will come sporadically and unexpectedly, spreading violently from any country that we do business with.

Zimbabwe has managed COVID-19 better than many countries in the world and the few astute medical staff has done wonders in order to contain the diabolic virus. Many people thought Africa was going to be wiped by the virus has not turned out to be the case.

The COVID-19, therefore, calls for us to remain united as we navigate through the muddy waters and it is my suggestion that while the restrictions are being lifted, people should not forget that we are still in the midst of a serious war.

For schools to run smoothly while avoiding a lot of alarm, despondency or fear among scholars, it is prudent that safety measures be observed so that the country will not slide backwards in terms of incidence, morbidity and mortality. It is your duty to drive the country forward, hence the following suggestions:

  • This is the time to encourage vaccination for everyone and public officials should strive to make sure that the nation achieves herd immunity. Misinformation and disinformation should be nipped in the bud. Intellectuals should be at the fore-front of spreading correct medical information so that scepticism is eliminated. How can we conquer on COVID-19 if we are shunning vaccines? Even in 1957 when there was the Asian flu, Maurice Hillemann made a vaccine in four months and stopped the H2N2 virus.
  • I don’t understand why some schools are rushing to publish COVID-19 results to everyone. Publishing results of only five students and circulating them on social media will not help anyone but will create a false sense of health insecurity in schools. With the availability of medical personnel in all provinces, I believe such cases can be easily contained.

Remember, it is not everyone who can contract the virus at the same time as some have already suffered from the virus. Yes, COVID-19 has seen some patients getting second or even third attacks. Our national statistics have not shown serious disease for those below 16 years, a big positive as schools reopen.

  • Lastly, it should be prudent to report all suspected cases to authorities so that quick attention is given to infected scholars. There are many other diseases which maybe confused with COVID-19 and chief among them are malaria and typhoid. Let us remember malaria is stubborn, especially in Manicaland, so let us not rush to judge.

Let us support our children as they endeavour to compensate for the lost time.