COVID-19: The danger remains

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COVID 19

BY Johannes Marisa
MANY countries have lifted COVID-19 restrictions, thus opening up economies despite the fact that the virus is still hovering around. The world is still losing more than 8 000 people daily with new cases exceeding 1,6 million on a daily basis. United States of America tops the list in terms of the number of deaths at the moment. Africa remains a safe continent with daily deaths not exceeding 300 people. Zimbabwe has managed to contain the dreaded virus with deaths now below five daily but cases have been showing an upward trend in the last few days.

Countries have come up with different strategies in a bid to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. The world has been plunged into confusion with different measures being implemented, some of which are reversed within a few weeks of being put in place. In countries like France, Netherlands, Italy, there were massive demonstrations against public health measures. Some people were against masking up, social distancing and vaccination which they said was an infringement of their rights. There have been at least four waves now of the COVID-19 of which the second and third waves were a thorn in the flesh for our country in terms of virulence, which resulted in high morbidity.

Complications like respiratory distress syndrome, thrombo-embolism, renal failure were quite common and the demand for oxygen was higher than during the fourth wave. The fourth wave was dominated by a unique variant of the virus, Omicron, a mutant strain with a constellation of mutations, 30 of which were on the spike protein alone. What a tragedy!

The unfortunate thing today is that many people have become complacent, with some saying the virus is no longer there. We know that this virus strikes in the midst of laxity. Everyone has to remain vigilant as there is a great possibility of a fifth wave in the near future. The emergence of the new subtype of the Omicron, BA.2 is a cause for concern as this strain is highly contagious and spreads easily, about 30% higher than the BA.1.

The virulence shown by BA.2 is greater, raising fears that the coronavirus may have a full bag of tricks to decimate us.

The speed of mutation is too fast yet many people seem to be oblivious of the fact that the virus is still lingering among us.

Public health measures are being discarded with many people snubbing vaccination up to this day. This is calamitous as no one knows what strain will be dominant in the next wave. My fear is the fifth wave is brewing now and within the next eight weeks, we might be in misery. Your personal health should be your priority and it is, therefore, imperative that you do not lose guard and abandon public health measures.

The tail phase of the fourth wave that we are basking in should not mislead us as we may be caught unaware.

As soldiers, we should always remain ready to launch missiles anytime in a bid to avoid being ambushed. One realises the calamitous nature of COVID-19 after having lost a close relative or friend. The emergence of different waves has come with numerous deaths that have left scars in our hearts.

It is my advice that people should continue to observe public health measures until the world is cleared of the deadly virus. The fatigue that many people seem to show towards COVID-19 will not help save lives but increases both morbidity and mortality. This should be the time to do some of the following:

˜ Getting vaccinated as the country is still far from attaining herd immunity. Zimbabwe was hoping to get at least 60% of the population vaccinated by December 31, 2021. We are lagging behind significantly with only 22,7% of the eligible population having being fully vaccinated while only 29,2% have at least received a single dose, figures that translate to about 4,34 million people.

Only 0,8% of the population has received the booster shot. People should not be misled by conspiracy theories against vaccination and should be vaccinated to have some degree of protection from COVID-19. No one knows when the pandemic is going to end.

˜ Masking up remains very important especially when meeting many people. Political rallies are being rolled out nationally and people should know that masks remain key as we continue the fight against the COVID-19 virus.

The fifth wave is nigh and all health factors are against us at the moment. Let us not forget that the scourge is still among us and missiles can be launched sooner than later.

The fifth wave will be with us two months from now. Our ways should not throw us into dens of lions. COVID-19 is still a menace.

  • ˜ Johannes Marisa is the president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe. He writes here in his personal capacity.