Is a Third Wave coming?

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By Elizabeth Sitotombe

SINCE 2020, Zimbabwe and many countries all over the world have been battling the respiratory disease, COVID-19.

Zimbabwe has been through a first and a devasting Second Wave and many health experts have warned that the Third Wave is well on its way ever since the Government eased lockdown restrictions last month.

Businesses and schools re-opened after the rate of infections and deaths had progressively dropped.

However, a high level of complacency can be noted in and around the streets of Harare, with many people disregarding COVID-19 regulations.

Some health practitioners have noted with concern a rise in flu-like illnesses in the past week . 

“In my opinion,” said one of the practitioners, “we could be at the start of a Third Wave; the same wave of flus and colds that preceded the last two waves has started. The only thing which is difficult to determine is the magnitude. The economy and schools have opened and the public is complacent, so what we have generally is a recipe for disaster.”

Zimbabwe is still reeling from the effects of the Second Wave and could not be more at a disadvantage. 

Not too long ago, Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive Dr Solwayo Ngwenya warned of a more dangerous COVID-19 Third Wave, coupled with deadly variants that could lead to many fatalities.

The virus continues to mutate, becoming more transmittable and hard to fight. 

It also makes re-infection highly possible to those reported to have fallen ill during the First and Second Wave. 

In recent weeks, there has been more talk of countries entering a Third Wave. 

Countries such as Germany, France and Italy have recorded a fresh number of COVID-19 cases from the Third Wave. On Friday, March 12, ltaly recorded over 27 000 new cases and 380 deaths with some of the affected countries having since gone into lockdown in a bid to contain the wave.

In Africa, Kenya is going through a Third Wave and the WHO has reported a rise in cases in countries that include Cameroon, Ethiopia and Cote’d Ivore. 

Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC) director John Nkengasong said they were starting to see the beginning of a Third Wave in East Africa at a WHO Africa press briefing recently. 

The number of people who have been vaccinated against the virus remains at an all time low, making the prospect of a Third Wave inevitable. 

Only 37 660 people have been vaccinated so far in Zimbabwe. We have a long way to go before herd immunity can be achieved.

Herd immunity occurs when a certain percentage of a population develops immunity to an infectious disease (68 percent); it is important that it is achieved as it slows down and sometimes even stops the infectious disease.

On Sunday, His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa called on all Zimbabweans to get vaccinated: “These vaccines help minimise the risk of infection and are being administered all over Zimbabwe free of charge. 

You and I need to defeat the disease. So, get vaccinated now. This is our stand against COVID-19. Together, we will conquer. Get vaccinated now!”

At this point social distancing and regular hand-washing remains one of our best prevention tools. 

As seen during the Second Wave, COVID-19 has caused untold suffering on families.

A recreation of such a sombre scene would not only be troubling but put the country into throes of depression.

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