HomeStandard StyleFresh Covid-19 wave on the horizon

Fresh Covid-19 wave on the horizon

BY Johannes Marisa
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 amongst the populace as worries about the possibility of a resurgence of the heinous virus, creep in.

It is true that Covid-19 cases are now beginning to show an upward trend and we should start to be vigilant as the threat of the 5th wave is proving to be real.

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 3 million people within the two years of the outbreak.

Covid-19 has been tormenting us since the 31St of December 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.

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 2 ½ years, a fact which can give us some sense of self-satisfaction.

Lately, South Africa has been recording quite higher number of new cases, a likely signal for the fifth wave.

Last week Thursday was the worst day in the last four months with 9 757 new cases, representing a 25,9% positivity rate of those tested. There were 64 deaths. The largest daily count for new cases was 26.976 which was reached on December 15 of 2021.

Southern Africa will likely grapple with the new Omicron sub-lineages, BA.4 and BA.5 that still have a constellation of mutations.

However, due to vaccinations, the fifth wave is thought to be the least onerous of all the waves so far. Zimbabwe has been recording steady numbers of cases of Covid-19 and mortality has remained stagnant lately.

There has been a  suspicious respiratory illness wreaking havoc even today. many people have been in trouble with a special flu.

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.

In March 2022, 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 November 25, 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 be upscaled at this juncture. Testing should be increased in suspected hotspots so that early cases can be detected if containment is to be archived.

Whatever happens in South Africa has a ripple effect on Zimbabwe as we share the border with South Africa.

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.

Covid-19 can attack us sooner than later and we should now stand up against the impending fifth wave.

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