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Let’s be serious

It is said that desperate times call for desperate measures. This is precisely what Government has done in response to the new Covid-19 variant Omicron. While the country, just like the rest of southern Africa, had been anticipating the fourth wave in the colder months of the year, the discovery of the omicron variant in some of the neighbouring countries has necessitated the soft lockdown which starts today. The new measures announced by minister of Health Sylvia Masebo are intended to galvanise the country to fight COVID-19 collectively. Of course, such measures will come at a huge cost to the economy as various sectors such as hospitality and transport will be adversely affected. Church services, which will have been reduced to one hour, will also suffer as worshippers will have very little time for spiritual interaction. Some citizens, too, will be highly inconvenienced. But nothing beats the value of life. For instance, some airlines such as Emirates and Qatar have suspended all flights to and from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia from November 27, 2021 until further notice due to the evolving COVID-19 situation. This has inconvenienced travellers to and from Zambia. All the measures, bitter or stringent as they be, are designed to save the citizens’ dear lives, which cannot be replaced by any business or amount of money. Of paramount importance for now is citizens complying with the measures so that more lives are saved. The country lost hundreds of lives during the third wave, with thousands more being hospitalised, hundreds on oxygen. Now is the opportunity to keep the disease at bay so that the country can have few casualties. It should be appreciated that government listened to expert advice in arriving at the new measures to safeguard the health of its people. This is a health emergency which required swift action by Government. It does not have the luxury of time to begin debates on what must be restricted and what must be allowed to continue. As it were, some stakeholders are complaining that they were not consulted before the stringent measures were decided. First things first. Let us keep safe and then we can review the measures enforced. This is a serious matter of life and death. The omicron variant is of high and growing concern to public health officials, who fear it may be more transmissible than Delta strains.
The health and safety of every citizen is Government’s top priority. Citizens should adjust accordingly and change their attitude by embracing the measures put in good faith by Government because the new variant is more stubborn and deadlier. When government announces measures, it expects its agencies to get on the ground to ensure compliance. For instance, local authorities are closer to the people and run most of the facilities such as markets and bus stations on behalf of central government. Local authorities are also responsible for the monitoring of compliance by bar and night club owners. They are expected to swing in full force to ensure that there is no compromise in the implementation of the measures. During the last wave, there was arrogant defiance of the health regulations put in place. Many people ignored the basic guidelines of masking up, hand sanitising, social-distancing and avoiding crowded places as well as poorly ventilated places.
When the vaccination exercise started, the response was pathetically poor. The numbers of people being vaccinated rose faster only after more people started losing their lives. We do not have to wait until people start dying to accept that COVID-19 is real. Such carefree attitude should not be allowed this time around, especially considering that the arrogant ones are a high threat to those that are compliant. Total compliance is key to keeping cases low and restoring a good measure of normalcy. Let us be serious.