Editorial

Grim reality

THE disclosure yesterday by the Minister of Health, Dr Chitalu Chilufya that a 10-year-old girl in Kabwe has tested positive for Covid-19 should now more than ever jolt Zambians into accepting reality that they are under threat from an invisible enemy.
Whereas they have tried to pretend that they are immune from the coronavirus that has ravaged the world, the grim reality is that it has reached residential townships – Lusaka and Kabwe, not forgetting Kafue.
During yesterday’s national update in Lusaka on Covid-19, Dr Chilufya said the girl had come into contact with a child who had visited their house from Lusaka’s Marrapodi Township, who also tested positive.
He said the child from Lusaka had a flu and a fever at the time her family visited Kabwe.
Dr Chilufya said among the new cases was a 56-year-old man of Kafue and a 40-year-old woman, who stays in the same house with the initial patient from Makeni.
Dr Chilufya said the other one was a 19-year-old from Lusaka’s Bauleni Township who was admitted to Chilenje Level One Hospital after coming in with severe respiratory distress.
“This brings our cumulative number of cases to 52, so we have 20 actives cases who are in isolation and all stable,” he said.
If anything, these new cases highlight the need for people to cut on unnecessary travel as advised by Health officials, and staying home to reduce the risks of infection.
It also brings into focus why people must wear face masks in public places, particularly crowded areas like markets and bus stations.
Whereas most people initially thought Covid-19 could only affect the affluent in society – those who travel abroad, this myth has been discarded by the cases that had been identified in Zambia.
One of the earliest cases involved a driver and a maid who worked for a family one of whose members had travelled for a religious gathering in Pakistan.
It was therefore just a matter of time that more cases could be detected in residential areas – after all Zambians did not take the specialists’ advice seriously.
Now that the nation has two cases of children under 10 years affected, there is greater need for the public to ensure that they go even beyond the measures put in place by the government.
It should also dispel the myth that only senior citizens are in danger of catching the virus. Yes, their immune system might be weak but by heeding advice, they stand a better chance of not being infected.
As Dr Chilufya said yesterday, people must be vigilant and report anyone showing Covid-19 symptoms and those they knew might have come into contact with people who had been found with the virus. We all must be our neighbour’s keeper because once it’s out of control, the health system might not be in a position to contain it.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that Africa could become the next epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, that there was a sharp rise in cases in the past week.
There have been almost 1,000 deaths and more than 18,000 infections across Africa so far, although these rates are far lower than those seen in parts of Europe and the United States.
The WHO says the virus appears to be spreading away from African capitals – from Lusaka to Kafue and Kabwe in Zambia’s case.
The organisation’s Africa director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, noted that they had witnessed the virus spreading from capital cities to “the hinterland” in South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana.
This is the more reason Zambians ought to reflect on their response to the Covid-19 pandemic and realise that they are not dealing with a simple illness.
Face masks must be worn all the time in public places, washing hands constantly with soap and using hand sanitisers. Above all, staying home and avoiding unnecessary travel.
Surely, Zambians don’t want to be “whipped” for them to appreciate health.

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