Editor's Comment

Arrest defiant travellers

GOING by the devastation that Covid-19 has caused across the globe, an average person should know by now that the disease is not anything to take casually.
Globally, more than 300,000 cases have been recorded with more than 13,000 deaths while 93,000 people have recovered.
Italy, the worst hit in the world, has reported 4,825 deaths, of which 800 occurred in a single day – last Saturday.
Across Italy, the total number of cases recorded to date is 53,578, with about 6,000 people having recovered.
In Africa, 41 countries have been affected, including Zambia, which has recorded three cases so far.
The total number of cases in Africa is 1,248 with 37 deaths recorded. Egypt is the highest with 294 cases.
The disease, which started in China in November last year where over 90,000 cases have been recorded, has been spreading like a bush fire across the globe.
While the disease is being contained in China, where over 90,000 cases have been recorded, it is clear the disease is not relenting in spreading to other parts of the world.
It is a known fact that the disease has only managed to spread so fast across the globe because of the international travels.
For instance, in Zambia, all the three cases recorded are as a result of travels. The first couple to be tested positive had travelled to France and the victim in the latest case recently came back from Pakistan.
Cognisant of the great risk due to travellers, Government issued Statutory Instruments number 21 and 22, making it mandatory for all travellers to be screened and those travelling from high-risk areas to self-quarantine for 14 days.
It is, however, disheartening that some travellers who recently came into the country are resisting self-quarantine.
Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya has made it clear that: “All returning foreigners resident in Zambia should cooperate with authorities on quarantine rules.
“Some returning passengers are resisting quarantine rules.
“Those breaking the 14-day quarantine rule are breaking the law and will be arrested.”
Certainly anyone who travelled to Covid-19 high-risk countries recently and has not adhered to the 14-day self-quarantine is a danger to society.
It is better to imprison such a person than allow them to pose a risk to the whole citizenry.
With what is happening in worst-hit countries like Italy, we cannot condone such irresponsible behaviour.
If developed countries like Italy could be affected to such devastating levels, how much more for a country like Zambia, which is still grappling with a myriad of challenges, including high poverty levels.
For instance, China built a gigantic hospital within a few days to accommodate Covid-19 patients.
Can Zambia afford to build a hospital in a few days when even the budget has to be supplemented externally?
Due to Zambia’s status as a developing country, execution of huge projects mostly depends on grants and loans. The reason is simple; Zambia does not have the resources.
If developed countries that can afford to inject billions of dollars into the fight against coronavirus are visibly having a hard time winning the battle, how much more for a poor country like Zambia? Management of the disease would be a huge challenge.
This is how serious the Covid-19 matter is.
As rightly noted by Dr Chilufya, those resisting self-quarantine are not only a danger to society but are also breaking the law and must, therefore, be arrested without any hesitation.
As a country, there is need to be proactive at individual, institutional, community and national level to avoid any further spread of the disease. For a country like Zambia, three cases is bad enough.
The country cannot afford more cases. There is need to seal every loophole even if it means arresting those risking others with impunity.
It is good that Government is actively pursuing the coronavirus matter. For instance, 2,900 travellers who visited countries with coronavirus cases were being followed up for further tests and so far 460 have been cleared.
While Government is doing a commendable job, we believe much more stringent measures still need to be put in place to ensure that no stone is left unturned in safeguarding lives of Zambians.
For instance, many countries are now implementing lockdowns, banning all activities perceived to pose a risk to further spread Covid-19.
Government must, therefore, not hesitate to take more stringent measures aimed at protecting Zambians.

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