SCEPTICISM might lead many Zambians to an early grave.
This is because amidst the threat of the coronavirus pandemic hovering around the world, they have thrown caution to the wind.
If anything, instead of stepping up health precautions, the opposite is happening.
Bars and other drinking places have literally stopped observing the government’s stipulated opening hours, from Thursdays to Sundays.
Yet, Government has warned of an imminent second wave of Covid-19 which entails that people do not drop their guard against the pandemic.
President Edgar Lungu cautioned during the week that a new wave of CovId-19 seems to be on the horizon and all citizens must abide by the health guidelines put in place by experts.
The President observed with dismay poor adherence to prescribed public health measures that had contributed to the sudden increase and geographical spread in the country in the last two weeks.
The cases, he said, have been recorded in Kabwe, Lusaka, Chibombo, Kalumbila, Serenje, Itezhi tezhi, Liteta, Kasama, Nchelenge, Chinsali, Kaoma, and Sesheke.
But even his grim warning appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
Although face masks are mandatory in public places – enclosed – they have been discarded. Even on public transport, the wearing of face masks that was enforced when the pandemic just broke is not enforced.
None of the major bus stations in Lusaka for example now enforce the mandatory wear of face masks. Even hand sanitisers and hand washing facilities that were introduced have conspicuously vanished.
Shopping malls, banks and a few other shops insist on people entering the premises to have face masks. President Lungu’s warning could not have come at a better time than now as the country gets embroiled into the festive season during which health precautions are discarded.
President Lungu also observed with concern, “The laxity towards Covid-19 guidelines by people patronising bars, musical concerts and other social gatherings.”
The onus is therefore on the public to heed health guidelines or risk having their “freedoms” curtailed – just to ensure that they remain healthy.
In South Africa for example, President Cyril Ramaphosa has imposed a longer curfew and placed further restrictions on gatherings across the country. President Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Monday evening amid a second wave of Covid-19 infections during which he said the curfew would be longer, starting at 23:00 and ending at 04:00.
“Non-essential establishments, including restaurants and bars, will have to close at 22:00, so that staff and patrons can get home before the enforcement of the curfew.
Zambians must realise that Covid-19 is a global threat and that their scepticism could lead to deaths that could otherwise be avoided with a little bit of care.
They must not be fooled that the Covid-19 vaccine that has just been introduced in some major Western countries could save their lives – Zambia and other Third World countries might not get hold of the vaccine in the near future.
The best defence is masking up, washing and sanitising hands as well as social distancing. Anything short of this is courting infection and death.