COVID guard dropped

THAT 324 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the last 11 days out of which 18 have died is a serious source of concern and a stark reminder that the pandemic is real and far from being contained.
What is even more worrying is the number of bought-in-dead (BID)COVID-19-related cases.
Out of the 18 deaths recorded in the last 11 days, 14 were brought-in-dead cases and out of the 42 COVID-19-related deaths recorded from inception of the pandemic, 24 are BID cases.
This is worrying. We should not have so many people dying from home from such a dangerous and highly infectious disease. This is a signal that the disease has probably spread wider than what is being captured.
It means that there are more cases of COVID in the communities than there are in health facilities and isolation centres.
This is also validated by the fact that from the 324 cases detected in the last 11 days, the highest number – 105 – is from community-based screening.
This shows that the guard against COVID-19 has not only been dropped but recklessly so.
One does not need to conduct any scientific research to establish the levels of complacency by many people towards the health regulations and guidelines provided by health authorities.
It is now common to see people on the streets, in shopping malls and work places without masks.
People have so easily forgotten about the practice of regular hand wash and sanitising. Anyone can guess, and rightly so, that the demand for hand sanitisers has gone down owing to the fact that people are not sanitising as was the case when COVID-19 just broke out.
Social distancing has been left mostly to churches and other such gatherings that can easily be held accountable while other interactions have reverted to the old normal.
The recent upsurge of cases is certainly a warning that there is too much complacency in adhering to COVID-19 regulations. It is also a reminder that the country cannot bury its head in the sand and pretend all is well when the pandemic is spreading at such an alarming rate.
It is evident that the bigger problem is in the communities and the country is sitting on a time bomb waiting to explode if not defused in time.
As directed by President Edgar Lungu, there is need for both multi-sectorial stakeholders and citizens to escalate the response to the pandemic and adherence to the set health regulations and guidelines.
Health authorities need to build more capacity and go flat-out in conducting community-based tests among others.
If people with COVID are dying in homes, it means the chances of family and community members in those areas getting infected and spreading the disease further are very high.
As rightly observed by World Health Organisation representative to Zambia Nathan Bakyaita, there is need to probe the reasons behind an upsurge in the number of COVID-related deaths in homes.
This will help in finding holistic and practical solutions to the pandemic. For instance, some people could be shunning hospitals for fear of stigimatisation in an event that they tested positive to the disease. For others, staying away from health facilities could be a way of taking precaution because they believe the risk of getting infected is higher there.
This, therefore, calls for intensified sensitisation on the dangers of staying home when one suspects they have COVID-19. People need to understand that health facilities is where their help lies if they suspect that they have COVID. Staying home does not only put their lives at a higher risk but those around them.
It is also evident that there is need to enforce the Statutory Instruments 22 and 21, which set out COVID regulations to be adhered to.
While government has taken a risk to open up sections of the economy in a bid to create a balance, it does not mean people are free to go on with life in whatever manner they wish.
Opening up of some sections of life that were initially closed down comes with responsibility on every citizen.
This is one point the head of State keeps emphasising. In embracing the new normal, people need to come to terms that COVID is here for a much longer period than anticipated.
Health authorities have warned that the disease thrives in the cold season and is likely to escalate this season. It is only responsible for all to take precaution in the new normal and safeguard lives.
Given that COVID is here longer than expected, people need to adjust and learn to live with the pandemic. And there is no other way of living with the pandemic than through masking up, sanitising and social distancing at all times. It is too dangerous to drop guard now.