BY Dr JOHANNES MARISA
The way people are going about their daily lives today depicts a normal life that is not under any health threat. Many questions have thus been asked about the prevalence of Covid-19 among us in Zimbabwe and it is a pity that nothing is receding in terms of daily global incidence of the disease. It was last week when the world recorded 840 000 new cases in one day, taking the number of official infections so far to at least 140 million. So far, three million people have lost their lives, a number too high to consider the innocent souls that were unexpectedly snatched from us. People should know that Covid-19 is still a menace and it seems the worst is still ahead as the daily mortality is now threatening to surpass the second wave one which used to juggle between 10 000 and 15 000 daily in January.
India was caught unaware recently and it is the most hit country today with new cases going beyond 200 000 daily. This is misery considering the large population in India of close to 1,4 billion. If 20% is infected, then close to 300 million will suffer from the calamitous virus with a probability of more than six million deaths. Brazil is being thrashed left, right and centre and the daily deaths are hitting the 4 000 mark. The misery in Brazil is traced back to the initial days of public health ignorance and negligence exhibited by the state president, Jair Boisonaro, who declared that Covid-19 was a mere flu that had no threat to humanity. He went on to condemn the public use of masks, the social distancing measures and did not even ban public gatherings. Instead, he went on to encourage his supporters to demonstrate in the streets without even observing public health measures. The country is in deep sorrow today as great people are continuously lost daily and there is no sign that there will be recession of the disease.
Zimbabwe should not be found wanting again. The country should always be alert about the third wave and too much chilling can be catastrophic for sure. The untoward behaviours that are now creeping in our societies should be condemned if we are to remain safe as a country. I passed through Mbare Musika last week and what I saw was not pleasant at all. The level of neglect, ignorance and defiance is astounding and if we are unfortunate to get the third wave, then a lot of our people will be infected. The following was what caught my attention:
lThere is nauseating garbage around Mbare Musika which is in advanced state of decay. Where are the so-called city fathers to allow people to sit on a time bomb? We have threats from many diseases like cholera, typhoid and dysentery yet the entire city that has an organisational structure allows heaps of garbage to accumulate on open spaces. Why would a director comfortably sit in his office yet there is nothing happening under his jurisdiction? Recently, there was an outcry about the high rates charged by the city fathers and all the complaints are hitting deaf ears. The Ministry of Local Government should bring order to local authorities.
lQuite few people are still observing public health measures especially in the high-density suburbs where the wearing of masks is now becoming taboo for many. Gatherings are now taking place with some youngsters being involved in social soccer matches. This is quite a serious breach of restrictions and if Covid-19 is to strike, we will be doomed in no time.
lThere is still confusion about the vaccines with many conspiracy theories and myths still circulating. People should know that once a vaccine passes the 50,3% mark in terms of efficacy, then it can be used. There was the talk of Sinopharm having a low efficacy rate and many people inundated us with enquiries about Johnson and Johnson, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. AstraZeneca is Oxford-made while Johnson and Johnson is made in the US. Both vaccines use the recombinant DNA technology using the adenovirus. Many countries are suspending the use of Johnson and Johnson because of clot formation. Clots are rare but can be life-threatening. While there was the hullabaloo about this vaccine, clots can be catastrophic considering that there are many people with high risks of clot formation and these include the diabetics, the obese ones, pregnant women, hypertensive people, those with heart failure and those on family planning. Let us not panic about the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines that we took as a nation then. We are safe.
Keep yourself safe. Keep Zimbabwe healthy.
- Dr Johannes Marisa is a public health expert who can be accessed on email@example.com