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Health talk: Covid-19 positivity rate increasing lately

By Dr Johannes Marisa

Covid-19 cases are generally on a downward trend globally although daily cases are still above one million. Africa is recording less than 200 deaths daily, a figure which is not alarming. However, Zimbabwe is beginning to show an upward trend of daily cases and this is worrisome. It was on Friday when the positivity rate jumped from 14% to 17%. If this continues to go up, then we ought to start being very vigilant. The number of admitted patients from Covid-19 is gradually going up by the day. Can we say we are now out of the Covid-19 quagmire? The answer should be a simple NO.

Countries have come up with different strategies in a bid to mitigate against Covid-19. The world has plunged into confusion with different measures, some of which were reversed within few weeks of implementation. In countries like France, Netherlands, Italy, there were massive demonstrations against the public health measures that were put in place.

Some people were surely against masking up, social distancing and vaccination which they claimed to infringe on their rights. There have been at least 4 waves now from the Covid-19 of which the second and third waves were a thorn in the flesh for our country in terms of virulence if morbidity is talked about.

Complications like respiratory distress syndrome, thrombo-embolism, renal failure were quite common and the demand for oxygen was higher than during the 4th wave. The fourth wave was dominated by a unique virus, the 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 flatly become complacent, with some arguing that the virus is no longer there. We know the trick with this virus as it waits to strike in the midst of laxity.

Everyone has to remain vigilant as there is 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 a highly contagious strain that appears to spread more easily, about 30% higher than the BA.1. The virulence shown by BA.2 is greater, raising fears that the coronavirus has a full bag of tricks to decimate us.

The speed of mutation is too fast yet many people are oblivious of the fact that the virus is still lingering amongst us. Public health measures are being thrown into dustbins with many people snubbing vaccinations up to this day. This is calamitous and 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 another misery that will strangulate our necks again. Your personal health should be your priority and it is therefore imperative that you do not drop guard against the stipulated public health measures.

The tail phase of the 4th wave that we are basking under should not continue to give us self-gratification as we may be caught unaware. As soldiers, we should always remain very much prepared to launch missiles any time in a bid to evade getting ambushed.

One will realise the calamitous nature of Covid-19 after having lost a close relative or friend and 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 work to increase both morbidity and mortality. This should be the time to do some of the following:

  • Getting vaccinated as the country is still far from obtaining herd immunity. Zimbabwe was hoping to get at least 60% of the population vaccinated by December 31, 2021. We are significantly lagging behind with just less than 23% of the eligible population having being fully vaccinated while only 29,5% have at least received a single dose, a figure that translates to about 4,35 million people.

Only 0.8% of the population has received the booster shot. People should not consider the conspiracy theories against vaccination and should, therefore, go for vaccination in order to get some degree of Covid-19 protection. 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 nationally and people should know that masks remain key as we continue the fight against the continuing waves of the Covid-19. The fifth wave is near and all health factors are against us at the moment.

Let us not forget that the scourge is still amongst us and missiles can be launched sooner than later. The fifth wave can appear anytime and begin to take many lives again.  Our ways should not throw us into dens of lions. Covid-19 is still a menace!

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