Dr Johannes Marisa A Covid-19: Continuous testing is necessary Medical practitioners have lately been inundated with calls about a terrible respiratory tract infection that has symptoms and signs similar to Covid-19.
There has been widespread panic among the populace as worries about the possibility of a resurgence of the heinous virus, creep in.
It is true that Covid-19 cases are declining by the day and mortality has taken a nose-dive globally.
We are not baffled by the pandemics, if history is to be visited as the three previous pandemics took around two full years to disappear from the globe.
The 1918-20 Spanish Flue was a calamity which claimed close to 50 million people at a time when the world population was around 1.8 billion, a figure which is nearly a quarter of the current population.
What was to follow was the Asian Flu of 1957-8 which claimed around 2 million people within the two years of attack while the Hongkong Flue of 1968-69 took the lives of close to three million people within the two years of the outbreak.
Covid-19 has been tormenting us since December 31, 2019 when the first cases were reported to the World Health Organisation from Wuhan Province of China.
At first, it seemed funny to talk about the diabolical virus until a point when Covid-19 was one of the most feared pathogens in the world.
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The world adopted extraordinary measures in a bid to mitigate against the virus. Containment measures were put in place but the virus is still ravaging the planet 26 months after the first cases were detected.
What may be sweet news to everyone is that the previous pandemics did not go beyond two and half years, a fact which can give us some sense of self-satisfaction.
Lately, many people have been in trouble with a special flu. This is a common viral infection that can be deadly especially in high-risk groups.
Children under five years of age are in trouble as well as adults above 65 years of age. The flu attacks the lungs, nose and throat.
Young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases or weak immune systems are at high risk.
The flu is spread the same way as Covid-19 through droplets which include sneezes, saliva or coughs.
These may come through touching contaminated surfaces, kissing, skin-to-skin contacts (handshakes or hugs).
The symptoms and signs are also similar to Covid-19 and these include runny or stuffy nose, muscle pains, headaches, tiredness, sore throat, fever, loss of appetite among others.
The first diagnosis to ring in many brains is Covid-19 infection.
The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests for Covid-19 have come out negative in many tests which have been run so far.
This is sweet news for the nation as no one is keen to face the abominable virus anymore.
Last month, South Africa, Botswana, United Kingdom, Germany detected cases of BA.4 and BA.5, the new mutant viruses that are subtypes of the Omicron virus.
Omicron was declared a virus of concern on the 25th of November 2021 when it was reported from South Africa.
The mutant strain has a constellation of mutations with 30 of them sitting on the spike protein alone.
The good news is that no major clinical changes have been attributed to the two new subtypes but these strains should be kept under the radar to make sure that we are not caught unaware.
It is not yet over until it is over with Covid-19.
With the suspicious respiratory infections which are dominating the healthcare facilities at the moment, it is wise not to drop guard at the moment.
The following measures should be observed cautiously if the Covid-19 virus is to be kept under our feet:
Covid-19 testing should not be dropped as of now.
Testing should be increased in suspected hotspots so that early cases can be detected if containment is to be archived.
We should not assume that all the respiratory infections that are prevalent are attributed to simple flu.
Covid-19 can confuse with Influenza A, B and C.
Robust vaccination should be continued and those who have not received booster shots should do so in order to keep the body well protected.
Vaccination has been shown to reduce morbidity, hospitalisation and mortality.
The challenge with vaccination is that both misinformation and disinformation are coming up with conspiracy theories that are bent on discouraging citizens from getting vaccinated.
Masking up should be adhered to until a time when the end of Covid-19 is declared.
This should be the same with social distancing, sanitisation, hand-washing, which played a significant role during the peak times of Covid-19.
We should always bear in mind that Covid-19 is like weather that can change anytime.
While we are about to forget about the loathsome virus, South Africa is starting to record significantly high numbers, a sign which might point to the emergence of the fifth wave.
Whatever happens in South Africa will likely spill into Zimbabwe so let us remain vigilant .
Let us be wary of the current respiratory tract infection. Stop the spread of the deadly virus.
Do not forget that Covid- 19 is still a menace that can still decimate many!