HomeHealth & FitnessHealth talk: Covid-19 on the rampage again

Health talk: Covid-19 on the rampage again

With Dr Johannes Marisa

HEALTH experts started predictions about the emergence of the 4th wave of Covid-19 in August and that was based on trend analysis. Many people labelled the health experts alarmists as they claimed that Covid-19 had actually evaporated. Asia, Europe and United States of America had their 4th waves and until now the situation is not pleasant. People have developed Covid-19 fatigue but that will aggravate the situation as focus on the pandemic may be lost. Complacency has creeped in with resultant snubbing of public health measures like masking-up, social distancing, hand-washing and vaccination.

It was only last week when everyone woke up to the news that a mutant strain of the coronavirus was found in South Africa. The strain, B1.1.529 was found in South Africa. However, people should realise that strains found in South Africa may not mean that they originated in South Africa. South Africa is known for its sophisticated gene sequencing equipment and can therefore isolate viruses quickly. Well done South Africa. In November 2020, South Africa isolated a stubborn strain of the Covid-19, the 501V2 which caused about 80% of the festive holiday infections in the southern African nation. The new strain of the Covid-19 is said to carry about 32 mutations, an alarming development considering that the delta variant had only three mutations but shook the whole world. So many lives were lost in our country with July alone contributing about 40% of the total Covid-19 deaths. We should not continue to lose lives and the more we survive the fulminant attacks, the more we become experienced in tackling the heinous virus. Covid-19 is a reality and there is no family that can claim that they did not experience viral misery whether directly or indirectly.

What is appalling is that people are highly complacent with complete neglection of pertinent public health measures. If Africa is to be hit with the 4th wave as what is now manifesting in South Africa, then many people will be caught off side. New Covid-19 cases are on the rise in South Africa with Friday recording 2828 up from 2414 documented from the previous day. It was only last week when the country was recording an average of 300 cases in a day so getting into thousands in a short space of time is a signal that the game is starting and that is the beginning of the notorious 4th wave. Zimbabwe is an immediate neighbour to South Africa and whatever adverse events that transpire in the south, may transcend across Limpopo at supersonic speed. It is a perturbing moment for Southern Africa as United Kingdom and Canada have moved to ban flights from this region citing the new strain found in South Africa. These are the negative effects of Covid-19 and we should bear them.

With the coming of the 4th wave, it is therefore prudent that the following measures be taken:

Constant adherence to public health measures that include proper masking up, hand-washing with soapy water, sanitization and observing social distancing. For big gatherings, people should exercise extra caution to avoid transmission as the threat posed by the coronavirus is niggling and nerve-racking.

The public should be reminded to seek early diagnosis and treatment and appropriate action is taken before many people are infected. Anyone presenting with symptoms or signs of Covid-19 should be tested fast and attention given. Isolation is important as it reduces contact with unpolluted people hence reduced transmission. The virus is a menace and the effects are bothersome for a long time. Some post-covid-19 patients have gone to develop thrombo-embolism, pulmonary embolism, heart attacks, renal failure some weeks after testing positive to the coronavirus.

Hospitals and clinics should ready themselves for the 4th wave and what I observed from the previous attacks is that oxygen is probably the most important item in majority of serious Covid-19 patients. Government should make sure that oxygen is available in all hospitals. The cost of oxygen should be reduced if patients are to afford private health care. Common drugs like dexamethasone, Vitamin C, Zink should be in stock as we face the unknown 4th wave.

Health workforce should be psyched up with their incentives and any measures that usurp the energy of the workers should be eliminated. Motivated staff is the best asset at any organisation in this world and the medical staff should be applauded for standing firmly against the Covid-19 during the previous attacks. Zimbabwe lost at least 79 active health workers and that is flabbergasting considering the understaffing experienced in hospitals. Car loans, stands and other incentives should be expedited to the health practitioners in order to keep them motivated. Health service delivery is important at this juncture.

It is my advice that people remain calm as the new strain of the Covid-19, B.1.1.529, approaches. We have met different strains and we will again meet this one sooner than later. Let us all unite in order to contain the virus. Avoid big gatherings at this juncture!

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