By Elizabeth Sitotombe

THE health care system in Zimbabwe is in danger of becoming overwhelmed as the country continues to record a high number of new infections being driven by the Delta Variant.

COVID-19 infections are at their peak and the country has seen a 107 percent increase in infections in the past week, with Mashonaland West currently the epicentre of the deadly pandemic. All ten provinces continue to report a high number of cases.

On Tuesday , lnformation Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a press briefing in Harare that commuters would now be required to produce exemption letters from employers, showing that they are essential workers as Government seeks to ensure compliance with COVID-19 restrictions as infections spiral out of control.

The country like many African countries is fighting a deadly Third Wave and recorded 1 949 new infections and 28 deaths on July 6. 

There were over 480  hospitalised cases, 54 were severe cases with 23 in intensive care units. 

Recovery rate now stands at 72 percent as the number of deaths threatens to spill over the 2 000 mark. 

As of July 5, confirmed cases of COVID-19 from 55 African countries reached 5 665 391. 

Reported deaths in Africa reached 

145 539. South Africa has the most reported cases, 2 062 896 and 61 840 deaths. 

The rate at which the virus is spreading during this Third Wave is quite alarming. 

The numbers being recorded per day surpass those that were recorded during the Second Wave per day.

It is rather disappointing to note that, there has not been much change in terms of adherence to COVID-19 measures, despite the dark cloud of sickness and death hanging over the country. 

For some it may appear mere statistics, but a life lost is one too many. 

The claws of the virus can only be untangled if we become each other’s keeper. 

The COVID-19 measures put in place go a long way in ensuring the virus does not have its way with us. 

Living in a world where one is not free to move around, or display affection to one another is tantamount to living in a world of captivity. 

That can quickly change if we play our part in this fight against the pandemic. 

According to Africa CDC data, the number of COVID-19 related deaths increased by 19 percent this past month. 

Symptoms being experienced by many are identical to those of a common cold or flu. According to the WHO guidelines symptoms of COVID-19 used to be coughing, fever, loss of taste and smell. This time around many patients are complaining of headaches, muscle pains, runny nose with little cough and fever. 

WHO believes the spread of the Delta variant has contributed to an increase in both cases and deaths across the continent. 

The Delta variant also known as B.1617.2 was first detected in India and has since spread to more than 80 countries. 

It contains mutations in the gene code for the spike protein which the virus uses to enter cells in the body. 

It has a transmissibility rate that is 50-60percent higher than other variants. 

It appears to be affecting all age groups, with reports of all family members contracting it in a household, children included.

Of concern is a recently detected ‘variant of interest’ known as the Lambda variant or C. 37, which was first discovered in Peru and presently, accounts for 80 percent of new infections in Peru and has spread to over 27 nations in the last month. It appears to be highly transmissible like the Delta variant.

According to WHO: “Lambda has been associated with substantive rates of community transmission in multiple countries, with rising prevalence over time concurrent with increased COVID-19 incidence.”

The virus continues to mutate causing headaches and untold suffering. What is certain is that as long as the virus is allowed to remain in existence, more virulent strains will occur.

In Zimbabwe the roll out of vaccines in hotspot areas and border posts is now in full swing with a total of 1 800 vaccinated at Chirundu Border posts. 

More than 80 000 people have received their shots in Mashonaland West Province with 45 000 having received their first dose. 

Distribution of the Sinopharm vaccine to provinces commenced on Friday 2 July 2021, with each province receiving 15 000 first doses, while Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Harare Metropolitan received 20 000 doses each. 

As of July 6, 807 633 people had recieved their first jab, while 574 934 received their second.

President Emerson Mnangagwa urged Zimbabweans to remain on their guard to beat COVID-19 amid a surge in new infections and deaths.

“The Third Wave of COVID-19 is upon us with the current variants being highly transmissible. Many lives have been lost within a short space of time. We should therefore not gamble with our lives. Let us all work harder to quickly return to normalcy. The country must continue to religiously observe the WHO public health protocols,” he said. 

Despite the high vaccination drive in the country, we are still to achieve herd immunity so let’s all take precautionary measures and help each other fight this virus, by isolating when you have developed flu symptoms, sanitising and avoiding crowded places.

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