The Coronavirus outbreak which according to official reports is believed and confirmed to have originated in China is a serious global tragedy with dire consequences to the wellbeing of the human race and thus serious informed and collective action is needed in order to tackle it.
Managing it effectively demands that people must be furnished with facts and the truth rather than the display of public relations theatrics which gives people fake assurances and false hope while the marauding epidemic continues to spread and kill people across the world.
This epidemic is real and its consequences are devastating; as such, like what China did, through urgent mass construction of facilities to contain and treat the virus, Africa and other continents must also use resources at their disposal to take rigorous and quick action.
In this context, one of the easiest and quickest ways to do so is to be factual in information reporting, be it on the number of casualties as well as on the health and safety mechanisms that can be adopted by the general public so that all stakeholders can make informed decisions.
In a recent disturbing case, the government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care confirmed attending to a suspected case of Coronavirus in which a woman from Mutare who had visited China died before getting to Wilkins Hospital but tested negative even though she had complained about shortness of breath.
Revelations by Hopewell Chin’ono, an award-winning Zimbabwean journalist has indicated that the said woman is actually a Chinese national and thus raising concern as to why the government had not reported as such in its statement.
While responding to update on the Corona Virus by Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Information and Publicity, Chin’ono said “Can you stop this nonsense @InfoMinZW of calling a Chinese national a Mutare woman. This was done to appease the Chinese at the cost of your own citizens knowing the truth! Coronavirus will affect anyone, so the silly idea of hiding identity is foolish. RESPECT your citizens!”
Cases and narratives of this nature raise panic and alarm among the citizenry especially when there have been similar instances of propaganda in the state machinery on other issues like Chinese Aid and proceeds of diamond mining etc. which are of critical importance to people’s welfare of Zimbabweans.
On contrast, a commendable approach of openness that was taken especially in the context of Africa is the quick announcement of a confirmed case and a narration of the related circumstances by the South African government on the 5th of March 2020 through the Ministry of Health.
In his correspondence to the press on the same date, South Africa’s Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, said that “This media briefing is to ensure that the public is immediately kept abreast. A briefing will be held later after the parliamentary debate this evening to shed more light on this issue”.
More so, the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa further highlighted the importance of timely updates on the issue of Coronavirus to the public.
“So it’s now been confirmed that we have a person within our country who has tested positive to Corona Virus. We would like to applaud the capability of the NICD for having acted very quickly and swiftly and also having informed the Minister who immediately informed me. I informed him that he should go ahead and make the news public in parliament so that South Africans are immediately informed so as to avoid fake news spreading around the country…..” he said.
Even though statistics of confirmed cases in China itself are said to be going down, the spread of the Coronavirus has picked up in other countries with many confirmed cases in Italy and all its schools have been closed and around sixteen million of its citizens are now under quarantine.
According to a recent BBC News report; schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the country have been closed in Italy, a country which has recorded the largest number of confirmed cases in Europe, with the figure of 5 883 have been recorded by Saturday, the 7th of March.
Iran is also among other countries that have been seriously affected by the Coronavirus, with eight (8) percent of its members of parliament and even the vice president having tested positive to the epidemic, according to Australia’s Business Insider.
In the United States of America, there have been declarations of State of Emergencies in some areas including Washington County in order to contain the deadly Coronavirus according to an ABC News report by Morgan Windsor and Ivan Pereira on 2 March 2020.
Besides killing people, the spread of the Coronavirus has brought along many other inconveniences with it including international trade and the global stock market having been badly affected.
As such, without facts and the truth, it will take longer to contain the outbreak since unsuspecting people across the world will succumb to it without taking precautions and thus causing further mayhem across the globe.
The Zimbabwean Government Continues To Slumber As COVID 19 Decimates Territories Across The World
COVID-19 is not your everyday kind of sickness, because it is a deadly weapon unleashed on mankind by a powerful force, whether it is God, the Creator, or the devil and his agents, which is the wicked men.
As a mere man, I do not know how this calamity came to be, notwithstanding the conspiracy theories that fly in our paths in every direction, but I can say that the negative impact of this virus has been felt globally.
The spread of this deadly disease is akin to veld fires that are spreading unabated and destroying everything in their way and yet political leaders in Africa especially in Zimbabwe whose people are in the path of this dangerous inferno continue to sleep as if all is well.
Most of us came to know everything there was to know about COVID-19 a few weeks ago when the city of Wuhan in Hubei, China struggled to contain its widespread.
The Wuhan experience gave many countries, including those from Africa enough time to channel resources from non-essential services in a bid to prevent the spread into their own territories, but alas, they thought it was a Chinese problem!
Even though China has seemingly managed to contain it, they have also shut down their own borders in order to stop the diseases from coming back through international travels, thus demonstrating to us their knowledge of how deadly is the coronavirus.
However, regardless of all that happened and is happening in China, countries like my very own Zimbabwe here in Africa only started showing a semblance of seriousness when a Caucasian male was diagnosed positive in Victoria Falls on the 20th of March.
Commitment, effort, and seriousness of our politicians and the government are very dismal since even the specially designated places for handling the Coronavirus such as the Wilkins Hospital is ill and improperly equipped to deal with this COVID-19 crisis.
What baffles the mind is that a whole government that collects millions of dollars each month (never mind whether it’s USD, RTGS, Bond or ZIPIT dollars!) failed to buy the related medicines plus test kits and protective clothing for medical personnel.
They had to wait for a donation from the Chinese and Alibaba business mogul Jack Ma in order to kick start the whole preparation process.
What is most annoying is that no matter how much one desires to reform and be a good citizen that listens and believes in their political leaders, our politicians, and government officials always have a way of pissing you off through their lies, greedy attitudes and incompetence.
Our government is even stingy with critical information especially in the form of statistical approaches and strategies being implemented of which we need all that for making the right decisions and taking informed action.
The questions that people are asking are simple and straight forward.
How much money has been encumbered by the state to fund the COVID-19 treatment? What is the currently available equipment? What is the hospital capacity at the moment at Wilkins and are there any other hospitals being designated and their capacity?
In the provinces and districts, which medical centers have been set aside to manage and admit COVID-19 patients and their capacities? What are the permutations currently obtaining?
Assuming that the five positive patients have already infected other people, how effective has been the tracing and tracking of possible carriers? Why can’t they use the GIS concept in indicating prevalence, scoping and other scenario setting models? Why is there so much secrecy around the statistics?
It is even common knowledge that an individual who was confirmed to be positive with the Coronavirus was in contact with the cabinet ministers, and thus we demand to know their statuses after the exposure.
We can take a cue from the British and American politicians and other luminaries who have been voluntarily tested and published their results in order for us to set the tone for seriousness.
I have come across several well educated Zimbabweans who still profess ignorance and believing mythical theories. They deliberately break basic COVID-19 basic hygiene practices.
As the lockdown starts this 30th of March 2020, you can see that people are acting as if COVID-19 has a set date when its programmed to start infecting and killing people since when I passed through Mbare Msika bus terminus on the 29th, thousands of people at both the bus terminal and the fresh produce market.
I looked at those in my movement trajectory and I saw that only less than twenty people were wearing any form of protective clothing.
If for statistical purposes, a few of these people were infected, your guess is as good as mine as to the possible number of people that can also become infected while heading to their rural homes for the now combined lockdown, Easter and independence holidays.
Even though this lockdown is not a holiday, some people are taking it as such and in the process, they are arranging their traveling to their rural areas thus increasing the potential spreading the infection even to the rural folks.
Scientists have now discovered that the virus can be airborne (it flies!) and yet the celebrated N95 mask has an effective rate of about 95%, which means that wearing the mask alone without minimizing contact with many other people doesn’t guarantee any immunity!
As of 29 March, over 663,000 positive cases and over 21,000 deaths worldwide were reported and yet African countries including Zimbabwe continue to slumber waiting for donations.
As citizens, in any health-related crisis like this one, we need the whole epidemiological report in real-time plus we need to see the capacity and ability of the government to manage the affairs of the nation for the good of the people.
The Chinese government did put in more than USD220 billion to fight COVID-19 and brought everything to a standstill as they employed the famous ‘scorched earth policy’ as developed by the Russians in the world wars.
They provided and delivered food to households and all movements ceased because ‘everyone’ was confined to their houses and this took them almost three months to even begin to relax the lockdown rules.
China’s approach was a typical real quarantine and lockdown, not the Zimbabwean one which is a ‘democratic’ kind of lockdown.
Our lockdown has too many loopholes, understandably because the government cannot afford to feed the whole population during such an exercise.
With more than 90% of all employable people that are not employed but are mostly sustained by hand to mouth hustles through vending in the streets, it means that very few people can afford to be at home for twenty-one days without any form of an income.
People are pressed between COVID-19 and hunger because, without the daily hand-to-mouth routine of survival which is at their disposal, they cannot afford a meal the following day.
Managing an effective lockdown that forbids and dissuades people from risking their lives in the streets in order to afford a substandard meal calls for massive financial resources and human capital but unfortunately, our government is unaccountably broke.
This, therefore, means that people will be dangerously tempted to continue risking their lives against the virus and government tolerated brutality so that their families could have at least a single meal per day.
It is even disturbing to note that a suspected patient was allowed to; roam at will, hold meetings with government officials even against a background of an informed medical report from those tasked to manage points of entry into the country and yet the consequences of COVID 19 are not a global secret.
Here in Africa, especially in Zimbabwe, we need nothing less than intervention from God, because the government is poor and cannot afford prevention let alone treatment.
After the scourge was identified in China, it would have been cheaper for African governments to immediately institute stringent entry rules into their territories without having to wait for a confirmed case of infection before instituting relevant preventative and protective measures.
This shows that those who are mandated with managing the nation have not yet learned over the years that prevention was cheaper than cure (treatment).
Our government is not telling us how much they are investing in the epidemic as they seem to be only dependent on donor funding alone especially from China and yet as a nation we are owed billions of United States dollars looted during the past decades by the political elites.
The other problem bedeviling our country and affecting our responsiveness is that people who are supposed to draft legislative agenda to overtake and recover the looted resources are at the forefront of such looting and thus you are left wondering about who shall guard the corrupt guard?
We need to seriously and effectively conduct the quarantine exercise in order to reduce the number of people that get infected by ‘live’ individuals because the severity of this sickness depends on the viral load that the patient would have been exposed to.
For example; if you got infected by one person that you met randomly at a bus stop, then what it means is that your immune system will technically be ready to fight the virus once it starts to replicate because luck for you, you only breathed in fewer viruses at the initial point of contact.
However, let us suppose that you are in a ZUPCO bus (public transport) that is carrying seventy-five seated passengers and suppose that a number of them are infected.
This will mean that that you will breathe contaminated air in a confined space and thus you are susceptible to get heavily dosed and thus when your viral intake is excessive when you fall sick, you will definitely need a ventilator if you are to recover.
As such, in order to contain this Corona epidemic, a serious lockdown must be initiated at the same level as a political curfew in order to enforce it or otherwise, thousands will have to die before people start to consciously respect the dictates of the lockdown.
What baffles my mind is the fact Zimbabwe is ranked at the apex of literacy index and yet we continue to exhibit ignorance, arrogance, and stubbornness expected of the illiterate because we have become sluggish and passive, a heritage from political conditioning perpetuated by the Mugabeism era.
The social implications of this lockdown are immense, however, the effects of the deadly COVID-19 far outweigh the domestic tensions and negative effects of forced cohabiting.
The next three weeks will put to test people’s patience, love (or lack of it) and long-suffering.
My prayer is that domestic violence must be avoided at all costs since COVID-19 is violent enough as it were.
I urge people across the board to keep the peace, love, and mercy at all times bearing in mind that it is all our duty to stop the virus dead in its tracks.
My message to the government is pretty simple; TEST and ISOLATE ALL positive cases, trace and test their contacts, quarantine healthy people to their homes, lock down the whole country!
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author zwnews24 will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.
Braai (Gotcha Nyama) – The Do’s and Don’ts
Health and Wellness Guide
Five tips for a healthy braai:
- Braai less red meat and rather go for more fish, pork and chicken
- Make sure that your braai grid has adequate holes to allow the fat from the meat to drip off.
- Braai with minimal intense heat.
- Lower the amount of smoke coming onto the meat. The smoke carries some of the cancer-causing chemicals.
- Include lots of antioxidant-rich fruit, vegetables and whole grains to your meal.
I don’t think anyone needs an excuse to light a fire and to braai, whether it is a family gathering, company year-end party or when you are just hanging out on a Sunday afternoon, because the pleasure of eating “braaied” meat always sounds palatable.
But have you ever wondered if charred meat is good for you?
With cancer incidence on the rise and health data around red and processed meat causing cancer, you may need to have a closer look at the healthy implications of your food intake.
It is now a well-known fact that cooking meat at high temperatures does create chemicals that may increase cancer risk.
More so, it is not new information that red and processed meat in itself may increase cancer risk since nutrition recommendations for cancer prevention says “Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat”, as published in the Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective.
Substantial research has been done to prove the presence of chemicals such as Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs), a carcinogenic (cancer causing) chemical formed during the cooking of muscle meat.
Heterocyclic amines are formed when the building blocks of proteins (amino acids) and creatine, a specific chemical found in muscles react at high cooking temperatures.
But that does not completely eliminate braaing from your weekend social events since there are healthier ways of doing it as mentioned in the introduction of this article.
The bottom line principle is to lessen the amount of red and or processed meat, particularly over a long period of time.
Meat is a valuable source of nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12 but you should consume not more than three portions (350 – 500g) per week.
Before you start worrying about how much meat to buy, plan your menu first. The meat you choose determines what braai techniques to use.
Work backwards by looking at what else you want to serve and how meat is going to be used, as well as what kind of appetites your guests will have.
Consider the side dishes you plan to serve and think about the role that meat will play in the meal.
Keep fit, stay healthy and be happy
Tatenda Andrew Nhema
Zimbabwe’s health woes: 250 babies born in make-shift maternity clinic as system continues to suffer
The floor is dusty, the walls filthy and the furniture decrepit, but for two weeks last month a tiny flat in a Harare township was transformed into a maternity clinic where scores of babies were born.
Its owner, 69-year-old self-taught midwife Esther Gwena, says she helped to deliver 250 infants as Zimbabwe’s health sector tottered – a feat that earned comparisons to Florence Nightingale, the pioneer of modern nursing.
Hundreds of junior medics at state hospitals began a strike three months ago because their salaries – less than $200 a month – are not enough to live on in a country gripped by 500 percent inflation.
Nurses are only working two days a week.
Those who can’t afford private care – the majority of the 14 million people reeling under an economic crisis compounded by acute food shortages – suffer at home or seek help from people like Gwena.
Senior doctors, in a letter last week, said state hospitals had become a “death trap” and warned of a “slow genocide”.
The government has also fired 448 junior doctors for striking.
‘I had to do something’
“A man came to me and said there were two women in advanced labour at (a nearby clinic) but the place was closed because the nurses were on strike,” Gwena told AFP in her two-room flat in Mbare township.
She rushed there and found that one of the women had a baby which had died.
“I took the other one to my place, where I helped her. The baby survived. From that time, I knew I had to do something,” she said.
Word that she was helping deliver babies for free spread quickly.
The state-owned television ZBC described her as “a modern Zimbabwean version of Florence Nightingale” and First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa visited Gwena and donated food, detergents and blankets.
A funeral services company chipped in with a mobile water tank and pitched a tent outside to serve as a waiting room for women before they went into advanced labour.
“I helped to deliver 250 babies … (they) are alive and kicking and at home with their mothers,” Gwena said.
Two weeks later, the government asked her to stop after a nearby maternity clinic reopened.
‘Patients are dying’
But while some laud Gwena as a selfless do-gooder, doctors worry that she exposed herself, the mothers, the babies to infection.
“We need to do something about our facilities so no one goes to her,” Harare’s director of medical services Prosper Chonzi, said.
Medicines have been in short supply and broken machines go unrepaired.
Senior doctors last week also stopped work in protest over the sacking of junior colleagues
Health Minister Obadiah Moyo admitted the situation in hospitals is constrained but says the government will soon advertise the posts left vacant by the sacked doctors.
A senior doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the situation has become untenable.
“There is no public health in Zimbabwe at the moment; everything has come to a standstill,” he said, adding: “Patients are dying”.
Even the scarce equipment is often not right.
In the second largest city of Bulawayo, Zimbabweans living abroad are helping in a small way by crowdfunding and sending money back home to offer health care for the vulnerable.
One such initiative is Citizwean Clinic, which opened its doors last month and attended to hundreds of patients in the first five days – providing free consultation and drugs.
“We go to the hospital these days it’s bad, there are no doctors. We heard that there were doctors here,” said hypertensive patient Elina Dzingire.
“We’ve really been helped here,” she told AFP from the clinic in the city’s Cowdray Park township.
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