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Covid-19— The social distancing problem – Tell Zimbabwe


TellZim Reporter

As the
world grapples to contain the spread of the coronavirus which has infected 106
125 682 people and killed 2 320 497 in 223 countries as at February 9, 2021,
various measures have been put in place to curb the spread of the virus among
them social distancing, masking up, lockdown and hand sanitizing.

Lockdown
has been adopted by many countries in the world albeit with far reaching
economic consequences with most governments worrying mostly about the safety of
its people over the economy.

The
lockdown levels varied with different countries with some imposing a hard
lockdown where only essential service providers would be allowed to work while
the rest of the economy was shut down.

The
World Health Organisation (WHO) came up with guidelines which would be adopted
by countries to curb the spread of the deadly virus but to African countries and
in particular Zimbabwe, the most difficult guideline which has proven difficult
if not impossible to enforce and or observe has been social distancing.

The
Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) defines social distancing also
called physical distancing as keeping a safe space between yourself and other
people who are not from your household.

To
practice social or physical distancing, one must stay at least 2 meters (about
2 arm lengths) from other people who are not from your household in both indoor
and outdoor spaces.

Social
distancing should be practiced in combination with other
everyday preventive
actions
to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks,
avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and frequently washing your
hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

COVID-19
spreads mainly among people who are in close contact for a prolonged period.
Spread happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets
from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or
noses of people nearby.

The
droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs. Recent studies indicate that
people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the
spread of COVID-19.

Since
people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to
stay at least 2 meters away from others when possible, even if you—or they—do
not have any symptoms.

Social
distancing is especially important for
people who are at
higher risk
 for severe illness from COVID-19.

If one
is sick with COVID-19, have
symptoms consistent
with COVID-19
, or have been in close contact with someone who
has COVID-19, it is important to stay home and away from other people
until it is safe to
be around others
.

COVID-19
can live for hours or days on a surface, depending on factors such as sunlight,
humidity, and the type of surface. It may be possible that a person can get
COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then
touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.

However,
this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Social distancing
helps limit opportunities to come in contact with contaminated surfaces and
infected people outside the home.

Although
the risk of severe illness may be different for everyone, anyone can get and
spread COVID-19. Everyone has a role to play in slowing the spread and
protecting themselves, their family, and their community.

In
addition to practicing
everyday steps to
prevent COVID-19
, keeping space between you and others is one of
the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to this virus and slowing its
spread in communities.

Zimbabwe
opened its borders ahead of the festive season last year and the move, though
noble, proved to be catastrophic as the nation recorded a surge in positive
cases and deaths after the festive season which plunged the country back into
another hard lockdown.

The
reason behind the surge in positive cases and deaths has been attributed to
complacency. Observing social distancing in a highly social community has
failed.

The
shops where people buy their groceries have failed to adhere to social
distancing because there is no space for people to queue at till points.

The
situation at banks in the country is a cause of concern as people queue to
access cash. Social distancing at these banks is simply not practical. People
are yet to comprehend the severity of COVID-19 hence the social distancing problem.

Zimbabwe
has only allowed to commuting public to use the state owned enterprise Zupco to
ferry people to and from work but little is done on social distancing as people
are packed in the busses and commuter omnibuses.

To
effectively observe social distancing, which has proved impractical, public
transport has to carry half of its carrying capacity on normal days but the
Zupco are still carrying to capacity.

Observing
social distancing is not something which should be enforced by law enforcement
agents, because they are also found wanting, but the public has to be convinced
and have a buy in for it to work.

There
are people organizing parties even under the hard lockdown and out of
ignorance, the party lovers throw caution to the wind and attend in their
numbers saying they would deal with the consequences later.

The
poorly equipped law enforcement agents have failed to enforce the COVID-19
safety regulations. In Masvingo Urban alone, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
Masvingo Central does not have a single car to carry out patrols.

The
only car that is being used to enforce curfew and other COVID-19 lockdown
regulations is a service starved, worn out and abused Rujeko police station
truck.

Schools
have remained closed and a dark cloud hangs over the future of school going
children. Most schools in the country have been overpopulated and social
distancing pupils has proved to be impossible because the infrastructure does
not permit for such an arrangement.

Universities
have come up with an online examination proposal which would be put into effect
if the lockdown is not uplifted.

In
Zimuto, there was a case where a family member came from Harare for the festive
season. Soon after Christmas last year, the family member began developing
COVID-19 like symptoms and decided to self-isolate.

Other
relatives from other houses decided to stay at their homes for fear of
contracting the virus but those nursing the infected person felt neglected by
the social distancing and decided to cut all forms of communication with other
relatives who had settled for telephoning to check on the patient.

A few
days went by and other relatives were in the dark on the condition of the
patient. One relative in his 70s decided to cut the social distancing and went
to physically check on the patient.

The
patient was recovering and life was about to get back to normal for the family.
After a full recovery, the patient decided to go back to Harare. A few days
later, the relative who broke the social distancing to go and check on the
COVID-19 patient began developing COVID-19 related symptoms.

Due to
his age coupled with other underlying conditions, the relative succumbed to
COVID-19 a few days later.

The
Zimuto story shows that social distancing is alien to the African values of
Ubuntu.

All
other COVID-19 safety guidelines can relatively be observed but social
distancing remains a problem.

 

 

 



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