• August 3rd, 2020

Africans should collaborate on Covid-19

The reason Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic is this crisis, the worst catastrophe post-World War II, is spreading at unprecedented levels, overwhelming health sectors in America and Europe, where health facilities are adequately funded and are world-class with modern equipment.

Corona does not care whether you have world-class medical facilities and this could be attested by the current death rates in Europe: Italy, where the elderly are at high risk – and in Spain, where the victims are mainly those in the age bracket 50 - 59; 70 – 79, and those aged above 80.

Italy is said to have been too slow to implement lockdowns – while weekly cultural norms on Sundays, when young Italians go and visit their grannies, whom they kiss while eating together, helped spread this virus easily transmitted through bodily contact. Spaniards also have a similar family culture to that of their fellow Europeans in Italy, thus the high infection and mortality rate.

In Africa, vigorous handshaking, hand-kissing and even spitting into the faces of grandchildren by the elderly form part of the greeting in some communities; this disease could spread faster if Africans are not educated on the importance of social distancing and hand sanitising.

African grocery and Cuca shop workers do not often wear face masks, nor do they wear gloves. They do not also have sanitisers – and worse still, there is no social distancing among clients, which could put everyone at high risk of contracting this virus that could easily spread from person-to-person. By the grace of God, Africa, with ill-equipped hospitals that at times do not even have bandages and painkillers – let alone expensive drugs, has not yet seen a surge in infections but this does not mean the continent is immune from becoming the epicentre that shifted from China to America and Europe. Africans should take cue from the adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ lest Africa becomes the next epicentre of this global medical emergency, whose geographic dynamics keep shifting.

Wuhan, China, was initially the epicentre, but the Chinese severely initiated lockdowns, restricting the movement of people from town-to-town, and the end result was the significant deceleration of the spread of Coronavirus that knows no social or economic status and knows no geographic boundaries. This epicentre has now shifted to New York, Spain and Italy, where people are dying in their thousands, with hundreds of thousands testing positive for Covid-19. Africans should not lower their guards and should religiously use nationwide lockdowns, considering this is the most effective tool to slow down the spread of the virus. There is an urgent need for regional and continental collaboration on prevention and information-sharing through the AU, SADC and ECOWAS.

There are lessons to be drawn from the HIV-Aids pandemic that infected 70 million and claimed 35 million lives. It swept across America, spread to Europe and, eventually, Africa. Until now, sub-Saharan Africa grapples with the largest number of HIV-infected and is the global epicentre of the HIV infected.

Kudos to the Namibian government for having implemented the lockdown in Khomas and Erongo. Government also deserves praise for having initiated the massive N$8.1 billion stimulus package that will cushion the tourism sector, SMEs, farmers and poor households from the devastating effects of Covid-19. While its peers are dilly-dallying, Namibia has announced the much-needed package, clearly indicating it cares for destitute households, SMEs, and the tourism and other focal sectors of the stimulus package. 

Staff Reporter
2020-04-03 10:07:54 | 4 months ago

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