THE declaration by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday, that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a State of National Disaster, must have gone a long way in making Zimbabweans realise that this health menace is real.
This is especially so since no recorded case of COVID-19 has been identified so far in our country — only suspected cases.
Elsewhere, where it has broken out, by the time health authories reacted, it had already caused mayhem.
A pat on the Government’s back for being proactive in dealing with this pandemic.
The virus is known to take a window period of two-to-14 days and by the time it would be fully blown, it would have caused havoc.
Ability to forestall disaster, despite limited resources, should also be appreciated.
There was a time when we heard about this virus strain in one of the provinces of China and thought this would never happen to us.
Events have proved us wrong.
We are still lucky as no area in our country has, as yet, been declared a ‘red zone’ nor quarantined.
The early declaration of a State of National Disaster is meant to stop this.
Not only that!
Already hundreds of people elsewhere have died from this pandemic which has been declared global by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
We are a country under illegal sanctions and once this pandemic is given a chance to get out of hand, the consequences to our economy and social fabric would be ghastly.
For a start, we do not have enough hospitals and medical staff to cope with a sudden influx of victims as happened in China — a country with enough resources to build new hospitals in 10 days.
The adverse effect to the economy is obvious, as businesses, including banks, factories, bars, restaurants and supermarkets among others, might be closed.
Thus, we might come to a state of complete paralysis.
That is why we applaud the President’s timely intervention.
The adage: ‘Prevention is better than cure’, couldn’t have been more appropriate.
Preventative measures like restricting travel and avoiding large gatherings are imperative.
That is why the President has postponed Independence Day celebrations and the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
We know it is our culture to shake hands whenever we meet.
This has got to stop as it is a way of spreading the disease.
And, of course, the habit of washing our hands, not only to avoid spreading of the disease, is also a good hygienic practice to be observed.
TV, radio and the press are also expected to play their role in educating people about the need to take preventative measures.
This a time when the spirit of unity that bound us during the liberation struggle has to be invoked in the fight to prevent this scourge.
True, there is nothing wrong in praying to God to help scientists find a quick solution to deal with COVID-19.
However, we are also bound to come across some self-styled prophets claiming to be able to cure the disease through divine guidance.
What a load of rubbish!
We therefore expect scientists to come up, probably sooner rather than later, with a vaccine that will take care of this menace.
However, fear of this disease might prove to be unfounded on our part.
But that is provided we accept that prevention is better than cure.