The Covid-19 pandemic is still not over. In January Zimbabwe had to go into full lockdown after the number of new Covid-19 infections and deaths went up sharply after the Christmas and New Year holidays.
It is important that we do not allow a similar spike to occur after the Easter holidays. We can all play our part in ensuring this does not happen by being particularly careful over the long weekend to observe the preventative measures laid down by the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the World Health Organisation.
These require us to minimise our contact with people outside our own household and workplace, to regularly wash our hands, to wear a mask that covers our nose and mouth outside the home and to maintain a social distance from others of at least a metre but preferably at least two metres.
Even if you have been vaccinated against Covid-19 you should continue to exercise social distancing and wearing a mask outside the home. While the vaccine should enable your body’s immune system to fight the virus, if it enters your body, and so prevent you becoming sick, particularly after the second injection, you might still be able to pass it onto someone else. So for the protection of others you should still wear a mask and keep a distance of preferably at least two metres from other people.
The surge in Covid-19 confirmed infections and deaths in January was largely the result of the relaxed attitude that many people took during the festive season, coupled with an increase in the number of Zimbabweans returning home from other countries to celebrate Christmas at home.
Christmas is a time when family members from different parts of the country and those returning or visiting from other countries tend to come together, bringing with them perhaps during the Covid-19 pandemic the Covid-19 virus and becoming a source of infection for other family members.
Because many of those who are infected with the virus do not display any symptoms or become unwell, there is no way of knowing whether or not a person is infected with the virus, apart from having a Covid-19 test.
Governments throughout the world, or at least in countries where Christmas is a major event, were worried about the likelihood of Christmas becoming a super spreader event but many nevertheless relaxed their lockdown regulations to accommodate the wishes of their citizens to celebrate Christmas with their families.
Their fears proved correct, because most countries where Christmas is celebrated and regulations were relaxed saw a surge in Covid-19 infections following the Christmas holidays. They experienced a second wave of infections and the emergence of some new strains of the virus, notably in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Zimbabwe was not spared. When health authorities could see the danger signs of a second wave in Zimbabwe, they tried in vain to stop people attending gatherings. When the authorities pointed out that gatherings to celebrate the New Year could not take place in terms of lockdown regulations, this failed to stop such events being held. Many super spreader events took place which saw large crowds of people attending events and not only defying lockdown rules but failing to practise the simplest of Covid-19 preventative measures such as social distancing and wearing masks.
In the New Year there was a surge in new confirmed Covid-19 infections and more worrying still a sharp spike in the number of deaths related to Covid-19. The country lost several government ministers and high profile people to Covid. Many people found there were people they knew personally who died from Covid-19.
Many people who had previously not taken the threat of Covid-19 seriously suddenly realised that Covid-19 and its threat to people’s lives were real.
The spike in infections and deaths, with the daily death toll in double figures for the first time, not only made many people wake up to the real threat the virus poses but left our healthcare institutions under pressure, as the number of Covid-19 positive patients who required medical attention continued to rise daily.
Lockdown regulations were tightened at the beginning of the year, as was the enforcement of them through police roadblocks. Although many people continued to flout the regulations and find ways of circumventing them and avoiding roadblocks, the tightened lockdown did seem to improve the situation, as the number of daily deaths and new confirmed infections gradually came down.
With this reduction in infection and death statistics, complacency has begun once more to slip in. Many people are more relaxed now. They don’t keep a social distance from others and don’t wear their mask so that it covers both their mouth and nose, if they wear it at all.
This is why it is important, as the long Easter weekend begins, to make sure that such complacency does not result in a third wave of infections. It is why each one of us should play our part in complying with Covid-19 rules and guidelines. We should avoid social gatherings and stick to the Ministry of Health restrictions of no more than 50 people at gatherings such as church services. This is unfortunate, given that Easter is a religious event but we must stick to the regulations in the interests of us all.
Some countries in Europe have started experiencing a third wave of Covid-19 infections. Others are expecting it to come, if people relax their guard. Some have reintroduced or maintained tight lockdown measures that will run through and after the Easter holidays.
The spread of the virus in South Africa has also started going up over the last few weeks. This is a cause for concern given the fact the rise in confirmed infections in Zimbabwe after the Christmas holidays is believed in part to be connected with the large number of Zimbabweans living in South Africa who came back to Zimbabwe for Christmas.
None of us want to see a resurgence of the rate of infections and deaths linked to Covid-19. So let us play our part in ensuring we comply with the preventative measures outlined by the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the World Health Organisation. Let us help try to avoid a third wave of infections.
The information in this article is provided as a public service by the Cimas iGo Wellness programme, which is designed to promote good health. It is provided for general information only and should not be construed as medical advice. Readers should consult their doctor or clinic on any matter related to their health or the treatment of any health problem. — email@example.com or WhatsApp 0772 161 829 or phone 024-2773 0663.