According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO), confirmed cases of COVID 19 are spreading rapidly across Africa. Therefore WHO advises African nations to immediately employ proactive mechanisms to stop it.
In our case here, the Ministry of Health has confirmed 03 cases, so COVID 19 is no longer a tale from distant lands, it is in our very own midst.
However, due to limited testing capacity in the country, undetected cases are a high possibility. From experience elsewhere, the acceleration of COVID 19 is steep if preventative interventions are delayed.
Guidance from the WHO is that African countries should prepare for a worst-case scenario. Once we provide for the worst, then we can nip the problem in the bud by assuming an aggressive approach in the process.
COVID 19 Basic Facts
The reproductive number (average number) in which an infected person will infect others is about 2.5. With this calculation, from 1 index case, probable infections after 10 days would be 1600 people.
We are cognizant of measures announced by the Ministry of Health to prevent COVID 19. But they fall short of the scale of the problem at hand because of the following;
Our Healthcare delivery has no capacity to contain full-scale COVID 19 due to:
– Limited diagnostic capabilities ( only at UTH)
– UTH has only 18 ventilators
– Not enough medical staff
– Not enough Personal Protective Equipment
– Limited treatment options
Due to above glaring inadequacies, Western Embassies are evacuating non-essential staff from Zambia. What needs to be done (in addition to measures announced by the Ministry of Health)
- Complete lockdown of Zambia for at least 2 weeks to halt the infection rate.
- Enhance testing for COVID and extend testing services to all provinces.
- Mobilise retired medical staff to be on alert for a possible call to help and also enlist help from Doctors in the private sector.
- Procure enough medical equipment and protective clothing for medical personnel on the frontline.
- Restrict unnecessary movement from homes.
- Encourage all workers (private and public) to work from home.
- Encourage banks to deal in electronic transactions than cash.
- Restrict Intercity (domestic) travel unless absolutely necessary.
- Limit all gatherings to not more than 5 people.
- Restaurants and cafes to operate ‘take away’ (fast foods) only.
- Remove all import duty and other taxes on medical equipment and Personal Protective Equipment.
- Reconvene Parliament to sit virtually and approve supplemental funding for COVID 19
- Withdraw Bill 10 and channel resources to the fight against COVID 19
- Parliament must exercise strict oversight on the funds approved for Coronavirus, and no corruption and theft of the resources should be entertained or tolerated.
On a personal level
- Please wash your hands frequently with soap.
- No hand shakes or hugs.
- Cover mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Self-quarantine if you have flu symptoms.
- Do not panic but be extra vigilant.
Prevention of COVID 19 is our collective responsibility. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones and strictly adhere to hygienic rules provided for by Health authorities, because this disease is very lethal and spares no one. In all this, we should not forget to seek guidance from the All Mighty God. Remember we are our brothers and sisters’, keepers.