Unpacking the coronavirus

19 Mar, 2020 - 17:03 0 Views
Unpacking the coronavirus

The Sunday Mail

In December 2019, a cluster of patients with pneumonia of unknown origin was linked to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in China.

Microbiologists Macfarlane Burnet and David White (1972) acknowledged that there was always a danger of “some wholly unexpected emergence of a disease”.

Contagious diseases continue to threaten and disrupt human populations.

Covid-19 is reminiscent of the 1918 influenza virus pandemic that claimed between 20-50 million people.

Rosenberg observed that outbreaks unfold as social dramas in three acts.

At first, citizens ignore clues that something is fatal until a rapid increase in mortality and morbidity rates forces acknowledgement.

In the second act, recognition phase, people demand and offer explanations. Public responses are generated through explanations.

Pandemics eventually resolve, whether succumbing to societal action or having exhausted the supply of susceptible victims.

Covid-19 has since become a global drama, first in China and then to many other countries. The disease is complicated as asymptomatic patients can spread the virus.

Surprisingly, someone is always to blame, exploiting existing social divisions of religion, race, ethnicity, class, or gender identity.

Stigma usually follows every pathogen.

Anti-Chinese hostility has become a recurrent problem, whether with SARS in 2003 or Covid-19 today.

A myth that black people are immune to coronavirus has failed the test of time. Juventus and France midfielder, Blaise Matuidi tested positive to Covid-19 on Tuesday.

Contrary to earlier assertions of children being immune to Covid-19, research has found low incidence, with good prognosis among children.

In South Africa, 6 of the latest 14 cases were children.

In a Wuhan study, 6 paediatric patients were treated empirically with antiviral agents, antibiotics, and supportive therapies.

The first clinical trial for a potential Covid-19 vaccine began on March 17, 2020. Researchers hope to have initial clinical-trial data within three months.

There is need to expeditiously employ mechanisms that bring cure and vaccination at the earliest possible time.

Some researchers have stated that people above 47 years were at high risk of contracting Covid-19.

Signs and symptoms of Covid-19 virus include cough, fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, and vomiting.

Rehydration, antipyretics, and oxygen are in involved in the treatment of Covid-19. Ritonavir and Lopinavir combination, designed to treat HIV was seen to reduce levels of coronavirus.

Chloroquine has been discovered to be effective at fighting Covid-19 virus in studies done in test tubes.

On March 17, 2020, China National Centre for Biotechnology completed the clinical research of Favipiravir, an antiviral drug that has shown good clinical efficacy against Covid-19 outbreak.

Some experts warn that half of the world’s population will be infected by year’s end, an incidence that could result in more than 100 million deaths.

To date, more than 7 500 have succumbed to Covid-19 disease. Leaders have responsibilities to solve the immediate problem and keep it from happening again.

Global, continental, national, local, and individual efforts are vital in slowing the spread of the pandemic.

Fragile economies can react negatively to the pathogen.

International financial institutions must indiscriminately help low-middle income countries prepare and contain the Covid-19 virus.

In Africa and Asia, technical, diplomatic and budgetary efforts must be mobilised to avoid economic and social disaster.

Although emphasis is on hand washing, many people have no access to running water in poor countries.

Social distancing is difficult in countries that have many informal settlements and slums. Low-income earners cannot afford to self-isolate or take time off.

Crowded conditions in poor areas could lead to even faster transmission, experts warn.

Burkina Faso reported Sub-Saharan Africa’s first Covid-19 death, a high ranking politician in the country.

WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom, has warned the continent to “prepare for worst”. Africa has seen a significant rise of Covid-19 in the past few days.

So far, more than 29 countries in Africa have confirmed Covid-19 infections. South Africa has reported 116 confirmed cases (but no deaths) of coronavirus.

Zimbabwe is yet to record a positive Covid-19 case. President E.D Mnangagwa has since recognised the pandemic and declared Covid-19 a National Disaster.

Public events, gatherings and activities have been curtailed, postponed or cancelled. Rigorous screening, contact tracing, and isolation of suspected cases of Covid-19 is now top priority.

Resources meant for the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair and Independence Celebrations will now be diverted towards the pandemic.

Most health facilities have been put on high alert, and equipment to curb spread of the viral infection put in place.

Kits and other accessories for screening, testing, handling, and treatment continue to be availed.

With aid from the Chinese government, Wilkins Hospital has received a major facelift to meet the overwhelming demands of the pandemic.

Health authorities and industry should join hands, and avail affordable vaccines and antiviral drugs for the people who are in greatest need.

The Government must invest in disease surveillance, accompanied with a case database accessible to relevant authorities.

Primary health care systems must be strengthened, and create infrastructure for fighting the Covid-19 virus.

Health care workers must be well trained to monitor disease patterns, serving as the early warning systems that alert society to potential outbreaks.

However, special attention should be rendered to high risk populations. Covid-19 is likely to cause symptoms in the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

Diabetes mellitus, leukaemia, tuberculosis and HIV patients are at high risk of contracting the virus.

If appropriate and innovative measures are employed, the 21st century pandemic will inevitably resolve.

Whilst most Zimbabweans are still speculating myths on the Covid-19 drama, all citizens must acknowledge the need for rapid response and total preparedness

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