With Beatrice Tonhodzayi
The Covid-19 statistics in the country are becoming alarming. Over the past weeks we have seen an alarming increase in cases of the virus in the country. Of greater concern is the situation in some of our schools where we have seen a spiraling of cases that may very well take us backwards in our response to this pandemic. In recent days we have all heard about John Tallach, Chinhoyi High School, Matopo High School, which are in the news for recording Covid-19 cases.
Calls have been growing from many to close schoos barely a month after they opened following a long break due to this evil monster called Covid-19.
To be honest as a parent, news of Covid-19 cases are beginning to frighten me. Daily I worry if my child in primary school will remember to wear her mask at all times. I worry about her remembering to wash her hands for 20 seconds and also keeping her distance from the next person. Just the other day she was telling me about someone who keeps coughing in the classroom. I got so disturbed that I completely lost my appetite. It is that bad. While we all know coughing is a normal part of life- at the moment you just never know. At the moment it is truly worrying to hear of coughing and colds and once someone nearby coughs; you can see people scurrying to put on their masks.
So back to our schools; can we be certain that the children are safe? And if they are not safe; surely no one is safe because these very same children will go back home to their parents and guardians and their other siblings. So it is very easy for this virus to spread.
I see children from day schools around the city walking to and from school as I drive by and they hardly ever are wearing masks. I think masks are only taken out as they approach the school yard. This behavior by the school children is replicated by adults as well by the way. We passed by the crowded Siya So market in Mbare a few weeks back and it was packed to the brim with people buying and selling different wares. I saw only a sprinkling of people wearing masks while social distancing was not being practiced. I tell you what; people out there have totally forgotten all about Covid-19. They were going about their business without a care for anything.
I have also seen a couple of entertainment joints doing the most as in recent weeks. I am not sure what happens along Churchill Road near the UZ but I see hundreds of cars lined up along the street with plenty young people who are visibly drunk criss-crossing the streets as they enjoy themselves; with not even one of them wearing masks or social distancing. This is most common on Friday nights.
This behavior is now permeating every sector of our community. People are relaxed. In fact many think Covid-19 is a thing of the past. In Manicaland I met some gentlemen who told me to my face that there was no Covid-19 and Covid was a Harare phenomenon after I expressed concern about many people being in the same room. That is how bad it has become.
And now look at what is happening. While we are doing all this and being careless, our Covid-19 statistics are creeping up. Even more worrying is that people are dying no matter how low the numbers. One life lost is a life too many. As at November 20, Government reports that the country had recorded a cumulative 9. 120 confirmed cases of the virus and 225 deaths. While recoveries are high at 8.229, what’s worrying is that 7.650 of the Covid-19 cases we have are local transmissions, which debunks the myth that only those coming in from outside the borders are infected with Covid-19.
However we also cannot dispute that the mixing of people from different places also makes it trickier so when borders are open, the challenge might be greater. I am even worried about the coming festive season where people shall be travelling between countries, cities, towns and homes. Who knows who shall be in contact with who and who will pass on what to the other.
Seriously we just need to look at what is happening in European countries as well as the United States. Right now the UK, Spain, and many others have effected strict lockdowns as they respond to the second wave of Covid-19. And as sure as the sun will shine again no matter how cold and dreary it gets; this second wave may very well have already started here in Zimbabwe. Where are our children in schools getting this virus?
I wonder if we were capable of testing every single person right now; what we would find. I believe that low testing is responsible for the false sense of safety we have which has seen some of us engage in really risky behaviours which show little regard for wellness. The low numbers have put us in this state. But are they reflective of reality?
I don’t know about you but those strict lockdowns are painful. It is difficult when you cannot see your family or loved ones. It is difficult when you cannot get out even to see friends. It is difficult to be cooped up in the homes throughout the day .Let’s think back to when jobs were lost. Let us think back to when livelihoods were affected. Covid-19 is not just a health issue. It is an economic, social and political matter. It affects every facet of life. Today many families are apart due to this virus. Lovers are apart while some parents have not seen their children since this nightmare started. Economies are limping right now due to this virus across the world. The storm is not over yet. Who knows how many more jobs are still to be lost and how many lives are still to be lost?
The best we can do is be responsible and play our part to remain safe. The best we can do is be responsible and wear those masks and remain socially distanced. Prevention is always better than cure. We need to be careful. Covid-19 still remains a reality. Stay safe. Wear your mask. Avoid crowded spaces.