THE last two years were miserable as families did not enjoy their holidays together because of restrictions that were in place to curb the spread of the diabolical COVID-19. Many people lost their lives and the void left was an insurmountable task to fill.
The year 2021 is going to go down in history as the worst year of the pandemic as two deadly waves hit the world, with the second wave ending around February 2021, while the third wave frighteningly rose to the peak around July of the same year in Zimbabwe. To date, 5 606 deaths have been officially recorded in the country, but the number is thought to be much higher than this figure as data collection was not as robust as expected. Some patients were not enumerated, while those who had false negative results remained uncounted on national statistics. The Government of Zimbabwe should be applauded for working tirelessly to contain the pandemic at a time the entire world thought Africa was going to be decimated.
Today, all serious COVID-19 measures have been scrapped in many countries and masking up is now a taboo for many people who now claim that masks are irritants that should be discarded into the bin. We should be reminded that all the serious variants of the COVID-19 have something to do with the months of November and December. In 2020, the beta variant (formerly 501.V2) emerged from South Africa and started to wreak havoc in the world, while 2021 saw the rise of the stubborn Omicron strain that was declared a virus of concern by the World Health Organisation on November 25. Our Christmas holidays have always been negatively affected for the past two years and it is my hope that 2022 is a changed year in which the heinous virus does not spring surprises.
South Africa is now showing a serious upward trend of COVID-19 incidences over the past three days, with cases rising from 263 per day to 898 two days ago, then 1 179 yesterday. There has been a 400% increase of cases in the last 72 hours, a development which should worry us as we draw near to the festive seasons. Whatever happens in South Africa has a ripple effect in Zimbabwe because millions of our own citizens live in South Africa. Kenya has already raised the red flag about the imminent emergence of the seventh wave in that country.
The United States of America is having the new strain of the COVID-19, BN.1 and the mutant strain is fast spreading in cities and towns. It is not surprising to hear that another virulent strain is identified in South Africa sooner than later. COVID-19 seems to be far from over and the world should not loosen guard at this juncture. People have been lately lax to get vaccinated and what is infuriating is that since the beginning of COVID-19 vaccinations, only 31,5% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated. The country was targeting at least 60% vaccination status in order to achieve herd immunity, alas, it is different on the ground as very few people see the public health measure as serious.
Why are some people still shunning vaccinations yet the previous pandemics disappeared after massive vaccination campaigns?
The 1957 Asian Flu and 1968 Hong Kong Flu vanished following the relentless efforts by American microbiologist, Maurice Hilleman who made the vaccines. Acquired immunity has appeared in some patients because of previous infections, but if COVID-19 continues to appear with different mutant strains, then the trouble is far from over.
We are beginning to notice some isolated cases of COVID-19 with respiratory distress because of hypoxia and we hope the cases will not continue to sprout as we head towards the festive seasons. The calamitous virus should be locked out for good, but it needs you and me. Let us remain very vigilant about the virus. Let all suspicious cases get tested as we do not want to lose any more of our citizens. We do not want to be caught off guard considering that 90% of the public health measures have either been dropped or are being ignored today. Ever be on the lookout for the virus, folks!
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