Opinion

Covid-19 remains a menace

On March 20 last year, Zimbabwe recorded its first case of Covid-19.

The patient, a 39-year-old Caucasian male and a Victoria Falls resident had travelled to Manchester, United Kingdom on March 7 and returned on March 15 via South Africa, according to a statement released by then Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo.

Three days later, Covid-19 struck: this time claiming the life of Zororo Makamba, a promising radio and television personality, who had achieved greatness before the grim reaper knocked at his door.

The death jolted the government into action: President Emmerson Mnangagwa announcing the first total lockdown a week later for 21 days.

There was global lockdown and everything came to a standstill as governments battled to contain the spread of the virus. The lockdown measures were eased in October, restored in January and eased again early this month.

The new normal saw employees working from home, the wearing of face masks, sanitise and the practice of social distancing as companies and individuals battled to contain the spread of the virus.

Our safety nets system was exposed as it had no resources to assist the vulnerable groups in society, affected by Covid-19.

As companies’ finances became thin, they had to rationalise staff. Retrenchments, forced and voluntary, were introduced.

The past one year has given individuals, companies and the government some lessons. One lesson learnt is that Covid-19 is a ruthless juggernaut that has no respect for class, status or social position. It affected society’s haves and the have nots. On the government’s side, a lesson to be learnt is that planning is key.

Despite claims by the ministry of Health and Child Care that it was 100% prepared, the nation was at sixes and sevens when the first case was reported which exposed an under-funded health care system, already in the intensive care system.

The work from home model has been a success for some companies, despite facing challenges in the initial stages as some employees struggled to adjust after losing their office fiefdoms.

As a banker recently told Business Times, the work from home has seen the bank changing the way it manages its staff with focus shifting to “output rather than time spent working”.

“This has actually seen us improving our turn-around times as we have actually moved from an 8 to 5 mentality to an ‘always on’ mentality,” the banker said.

At the individual level, there is no substitute for safety measures. The easing of lockdown restrictions in October last year saw individuals throwing away the reins, mistaking that the respiratory disease has been defeated. It came with a vengeance in December/January.

There is no room for further mistakes which means vaccination should be embraced by all. The refusal by some front line workers to be vaccinated should not be used as a yardstick for the efficacy of the vaccine. In more advanced economies in Europe, lockdown measures have been instituted fearing a third wave as vaccination lags behind.

The first and second waves were brutal and the scars are there for all to see. The third wave will be vicious, according to experts.

The first and second waves should inculcate vigilance, alertness and responsible behaviour. If these cannot change our minds, what else will? Are we behaving like the Bourbons who learnt nothing and forgot nothing? Covid-19 remains a menace, a year on.

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