COVID-19 is real

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…Zimbos do not have in-born immunity to the virus

By Dr Irene Mahamba

IT has killed at least two million people across the globe, it has mercilessly ravaged countries that are most equipped to fight it. 

Countries such as Germany , France, the UK, the US, Brazil, Russia and our own dear neighbour SA are reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Despite being so scientifically advanced, despite their health care systems that normally can cope with most calamities, Covid-19 has proved a challenge beyond their means to contain.

Despite the fact that in our backyard COVID-19 cases are surging alarmingly, Zimbabweans seem to live in their own world; one immune to the coronavirus. 

In the three weeks since the current lockdown, the death toll from COVID-19 has doubled but the populace seems not to be moved.

On various fora  we are heard and seen claiming that we are the most ‘educated on the continent’ but perhaps what we can accurately claim is that we have one of the highest literacy rates on the continent.

Clearly, we are not responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with the enlightenment of the ‘most literate’; we seem to ignore what science has so far revealed about the pandemic. 

This is a dangerous gamble and it will seriously cost us.

Wherever you go, this defiance of science alarmingly stares you in the face.

People still crowd despite the call for social/physical distancing. 

On the ZUPCO omnibuses (18-seaters) people are packed like sardines, seated four on each seat, as they have always done before the current Covid-19 protocols. 

Nothing has changed. It is like there is no serious threat facing the nation; perhaps preferring to believe what they tell each other everyday on social media that Government is fabricating  figures for some nefarious reason or other. 

This is tragic, particularly saddening for those who try their best but are still caught in the crossfire because of those who have decided Covid-19 does not exist and have set themselves on a collision course with the virus regardless of the effect on others and on the nation. 

The responsibility is with each person; it is everyone’s responsibility to protect their lives and that of others. Both the passengers and the omnibus crews are culpable. 

These omnibuses have been rightly nicknamed zviCOVID because of the way they pack people, promoting the spread of the deadly virus.

The mushikamushikas are still loaded to the brim; three in front, four or five on the seat and some in the luggage compartment, with no space between passengers. There is no way the virus cannot spread under these conditions. 

Some of the women passengers have babies and toddlers with them.

There has got to be a tomorrow for Zimbabwe, but at this rate so much will go wrong and it will be very difficult for Zimbabwe to combat the virus, let alone recover from the ravages of the pandemic.

Where are people so desperately going that they have to be so packed? 

What is the urgency? 

What emergency are they chasing such that they cannot travel without being so dangerously congested.

It is clear many have decided that the coronavirus does not exist.

After deserting their stations in the first few days of the lockdown, vendors are back on the streets and on the highways, selling their wares as usual. 

Food is being handled with bare hands; there is no water anywhere near the lorries of mashuku/mazhanje and mangoes which some immediately eat without washing neither their hands nor the fruit nor the roasted mealies,  as if the coronavirus is killing elsewhere far from here.

Children are left sitting in the dirt, handling the dirt with their hands, and here we are talking of sanitisation, masking and social/physical distancing.

Who are we talking to about the virus? Maybe to the few who are ‘literate’, for so many have decided their literacy does not apply to COVID-19 — it is business as usual, but disaster is brewing.

The lockdown regulations insist that only essential business should operate, but so many have decided that whatever they do is essential business. 

I went to the supermarket the other day and there, in the shopping complex, a toy shop was open.  Is selling toys also essential business? 

There is need for closer surveillance of the situation before it so deteriorates that state of emergency regulations will have to be invoked.

At a street corner, two young females were doing each other’s hair, oblivious of the current danger.

Despite calls to stay at home, unless one needs to be out for critical reasons, groups, especially  of young people, continue to roam the streets aimlessly.

Free internet spots have also become the latest gathering points where social/physical distancing is disregarded.

It seems Zimbabweans have decided that they are in a class of their own; what has happened all over the world, including next door in SA, will not happen to us.

But we are such a small population and with the current upsurge in COVID-19  infections and deaths, we will soon feel the pinch.

Our resources for dealing with the pandemic are far less than those of countries that are struggling to contain the pandemic, yet Zimbabweans continue to be lackadaisical about the virus and its capacity to inflict serious damage to the nation.

Wherever you go, there is so much filth and litter. This does not reflect the need to maintain the highest health standards to protect our health in these trying times. Used masks, used hygiene wipes, you find them all over, these items can be highly contagious yet they are thrown all over where others can come in contact with them and possibly contract the virus.  

This is not only irresponsible but also suicidal because no-one is immune to the virus. Former US President Donald Trump used to think he was beyond science, but science had the last laugh.

It is unfortunate that those who faithfully follow the Covid-19 protocols will suffer because of irresponsible citizens.

At Fourth Street Bus Terminus,  it is disturbing to find people crowded as if they have never heard of social/physical distancing. 

It is worrisome that the crowded people will be so relaxed, seemingly without any worry.

In the supermarkets, they insist you sanitise your hands as you enter the supermarket and they take your temperature but no-one controls the crowding at the till points; neither the shoppers nor the supermarket authorities seem to think there is any problems with this.

We claim to be highly educated but we have shut our eyes and minds to scientific evidence showing us the devastating effects of COVID-19.

At this rate, we just might push ourselves over the precipice. Other countries have been there. We do not have inborn immunity to COVID-19

The tragic reality is that when one person ignores the measures to protect against the COVID-19 virus, he/she endangers not only oneself, but others and, ultimately, the nation. It is not right. Let us love our neighbour. 

Let us be patriotic!

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