Editor's Comment

Beware of new deadly strain!

THAT the country has confirmed the presence of a more deadly and fast-spreading variant of coronavirus, we do not mind sounding like a broken record if that’s what it takes to entrench the message in the minds of many Zambians on how dire the situation at hand is.
Zambians should not be casual about COVID-19, especially that we are now dealing with the new and deadly strain of coronavirus.
It cannot be business as usual if in December alone the country has recorded a staggering 2,600 cases. This is compared to 1,000 recorded in October.
Within the same month of December, 28 COVID-19 and related deaths were recorded.
Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya has said that a second wave of the coronavirus, which was first reported in the country in March this year, is now established with a new strain identified as 501Y.V2.
Unlike the old virus, which was prominent in the aged and those with health conditions, the new strain of the virus is prominent among the youths and pregnant women.
“What the President feared is now a reality. We have seen an increase in cases with an average of a death per day.
“We closed some isolation wards but they are now being reopened. The numbers have doubled in the communities and health facilities,” he said.
The minister said in the last 24 hours, the country recorded 285 cases of the virus with one death of a 73-year-old man of Kabwe. The cumulative number of infections now stands at 20,462.
Currently 1,546 cases are still being treated with 72 in admission, 40 on oxygen and seven in a critical condition.
It has been observed that for the new wave among those with the virus are people aged between 17 and 82 with the majority aged between 25 and 45.
As rightly noted by the minister, this is a very active age likely to be found at public gatherings such as weddings and parties where the new virus is spreading fast.
Scientists say the new strain of the deadly virus is 56 percent more contagious than the existing one. This means it can spread at a faster pace and hence infect more people within a short period.
Latest reports have also revealed that there have been 17 mutations of the novel coronavirus and that has affected its shape and made it more deadly.
It has also been observed that people who have contracted this new strain of coronavirus have experienced some new and more symptoms, including loss of appetite, diarrhoea, headache, fatigue, muscle pain and mental confusion.
Scientists say mutation has made it easier for the virus to enter human cells, making all humans regardless of age susceptible to infection.
According Dr Chilufya, the new strain of the virus identified is similar to the one reported in South Africa and Europe which is spreading fast at events such as weddings, funerals, parties and other gatherings.
As a country we cannot afford to take a casual approach when countries with stronger financial muscle are struggling to contain the disease.
If the guard against the pandemic is not raised, there is a high risk of getting into a deeper crisis where the country’s limited health care facilities and already frail economy will be overwhelmed.
Given Zambia’s limited resource capacity, it is better for the country to take a defensive approach by preventing further spread of the disease.
And the best way to do so is to consistently mask up, sanitise and maintain social distancing.
As we are in the festive season, there is need for people to restrain themselves by keeping indoors to avoid putting their lives and those of their families at risk.
People need to take responsibility, knowing that this is a matter of life and death.
They should think twice before stepping out to go and party if their life is worth that short-lived entertainment.
We know that during such periods, drinking places and nightclubs become a hive of activities with many people drinking their heads off.
If bars and other places will be allowed to operate normally, then there will be need for inspectors to keep vigil to ensure that COVID-19 regulations are adhered to without any compromise.
Let us not allow short-lived celebrations to set the country on fire.

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