Luck holds for only so long
by BLACK EDWARD
I HAVE been struggling to sleep lately. My sleepless nights, which are fast turning into some sort of weird insomnia, (but I’d really like to believe I’m not an insomniac, yet) are a result of thinking about the horrors that await us should the coronavirus (Covid-19) spread uncontrollably due to the inept handling of the healthcare workers’ strike and our laid-back attitude towards the pandemic.
The industrial action by health workers brings back painful memories of the previous one when patients died at home after being turned away from public hospitals as doctors went on strike — this was before the outbreak of coronavirus. I shudder to think that worse horrors could soon befall us.
Are we not heading for a similar Covid-19 catastrophe that Brazil finds itself in or even more dreadful? Brazil is the world’s No. 2 coronavirus hot spot after the United States. It officially passed 50 000 coronavirus deaths last Sunday.
This was a huge blow for a country already grappling with rising political instability and a crippled economy.
It is even said the number of actual cases is much higher because of a lack of widespread testing. The rapid spread of coronavirus has, according to media reports, eroded support for right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro and has raised fears of economic meltdown after years of anaemic growth.
Bolsonaro has been widely criticised for his handling of the crisis.
There are glaring similarities with Zimbabwe: lack of widespread testing, political crisis, economic collapse, anaemic growth and poor handling of the crisis and these similarities might not end there…
Our leadership should realise that healthcare workers play a critical role in containing the spread of the deadly disease and must come up with concrete measures to resolve the impasse as well as a carefully thought-out and clear national strategy on tackling the virus.
The health workers’ strike has to be addressed effectively. Time is not on our side and every minute counts. Lack of a solution will result in dire consequences.
So far we have survived by the grace of God, with a seemingly incompetent — some say an unqualified — Health minister Obadiah Moyo in charge we somehow trudged on even without a strategy for coronavirus while relying on donated testing kits. Before Covid-19 hit Zimbabwe, most governments were already preparing for the worst without even recording their first cases. But still when it finally hit Zimbabwe, healthcare workers did not have adequate personal protective equipment and suitable health facilities were non-existent.
The pandemic also exposed shocking levels of corruption at the top. Moyo was recently arrested over allegations of corruptly procuring around US$60 million worth of Covid-19 test kits and medical equipment from Drax
International. Moyo was granted $50 000 bail when he appeared in court.
Needing a safety valve, the government capitalised on Covid-19 and deployed security forces to violently enforce the lockdown in a suspected bid to silence the opposition.
Remember, President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared Covid-19 a national disaster. As it stands, we may possibly be facing the worst health crisis of our lifetime. What’s surprising though is that some of us are responding to the crisis in an irresponsible manner. Maybe we think that if we ignore the pandemic, it will miraculously disappear. Or maybe we feel the Covid-19 statistics from Brazil are far away and do not concern us. This is not the way to deal with coronavirus. We have to remind each other that as a country, we are in a state of disaster and luck holds only for so long.
For us to beat the pandemic, we all have to play our part. In fact there are things individuals can do to help themselves and others to be safer.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) we can reduce our chances of being infected or spreading Covid-19 by taking some simple precautions:
— Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
— Maintain at least 1 metre apart.
— Avoid going to crowded places.
— Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
— Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands.
— Stay home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover.
— If you need to leave your house, wear a mask to avoid infecting others.
— If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention.
— Keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, such as WHO or your local and national health authorities.