THE recent closure of a secondary school in Matabeleland North, after 100 students had tested positive to COVID-19 must have been a rude awakening to those who were prematurely abandoning precautionary behaviour to prevent this deadly pandemic.
A number of teachers at John Tallach Secondary School also tested positive.
This shattering news comes at a time when a second and more vicious wave of this virus is ravaging Europe and the US.
It appears a brief lull after the initial scare was deceptive.
In fact, the second wave has seen some European countries and the US recording their highest infection totals yet.
France is reported to have recently recorded over 30 000 cases in a single day, with doctors saying the fresh wave was already worse than the first.
Canada, which had been down to double digits, is back to about 3 000 infections a day.
In the US, the virus is spreading even more viciously, killing more than a 1 000 people a day and averaging more than 100 000 new cases daily.
SA, where the scourge has already accounted for over 671 000 lives, is already on high alert.
What does all this mean?
When we first heard of the new coronavirus earlier this year, we thought the scourge was only restricted elsewhere but Africa, let alone Zimbabwe.
We are now wiser and as the second wave tears into Europe, just like the first, we must be on our guard.
Once bitten twice shy.
COVID-19 is still among us though it may look like it is on a reduced scale.
However, the news at John Tallach Secondary School should make us look at events taking place in Europe more seriously.
Probably because of pandemic fatigue, Zimbabweans are generally less cautious in trying to prevent this virus.
We have already been advised by health authorities of measures to take to minimise chances of getting infected or infecting others.
But alas, the unilateral relaxation of safeguard measures among Zimbabweans is alarming.
Walking in the high density areas, one would be forgiven for believing the wearing of masks outside one’s home is not mandatory.
It is and, indeed, a crime not to do so.
Where they are worn, you find most of them hanging below the chin with the mouth and nose exposed.
What is even more disturbing is that a good number of people wear their masks just to be seen to be doing so by the police.
Yet, these masks are meant to stop the spread of this virus through saliva droplets and to stop the virus in the saliva from being inhaled through the nose.
Safe distancing is something which seems to have lost its meaning.
The crowd at Genius ‘Ginimbi’ Kadungure’s funeral (may his dear soul rest in peace) shows how caution can easily be thrown to the wind.
Mind you, this is not the only occasion where safe distancing has been
neglected with reckless abandon. President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health, had this second wave in mind when he recently suspended all by-elections.
We all know the behaviour of pumped up voters at rallies during election campaigns.
But, of course, there are opposition forces that don’t care about exposing people to the epidemic for political expediency.
Let’s keep our guard and avoid being caught with our pants down if the second wave comes and does what it is doing in Europe and the US.
Let’s always remember what President Emmerson Mnangagwa said: “It is possible to resuscitate industry but not to raise the dead.”