Editor's Comment

Light moments must be sensible

TWO days ago a video of quarantined but jovial COVID-19 patients at a health facility in Chinsali left many people bewildered and wondering whether this was real.  It was.
It was unimaginable that patients would be singing, drumming and dancing ecstatically while in COVID-19 quarantine.
In the video, men and women are seen taking to the dance floor while others enthusiastically turn water buckets into drums.
The euphoric atmosphere could easily be mistaken for a traditional ceremony, going by the rhythm of the drums and the dance.  But clearly this is a hospital ward.
We are alive to the fact that an isolation or quarantine centre is not a mortuary.  The difference between the two places is that one has life while the other has none.
It is therefore expected that since there is life in quarantine centres, human activity too is not absent.
Contrary to the belief and expectation of many people that quarantine centres and health facilities are characterised by a cold atmosphere and doom, there is supposed to be some light moments.
Those with terminal illnesses will attest that after spending a long period in hospital, time to leave is usually emotional because by then they would have bonded with other patients as well as the medical staff and shared countless light moments.
It is therefore expected that in quarantine centres, patients and medical staff will share light moments.
We have seen videos of medical staff singing for patients on their birthdays. Actually such gestures are therapeutic. They help take away the stress from patients and hence quicken recovery.
While some light moments are expected in quarantine centres, this should be done within the confines of the health regulations, especially in this case in which the patients are possibly coronavirus-positive.
COVID-19 is not just any other disease.  It is a deadly and highly infectious one that has turned the entire world upside-down.
It is saddening that excitement got to the heads of the COVID-19 patients in the video and forgot about health regulations and the need to observe social distancing.
The patients were seen dancing closely with one another while others abandoned their masks.
The conduct by the patients goes against the health regulations and their own safety. The patients simply exposed themselves to reinfection. If such conduct is not curtailed, it is likely that those patients will stay longer in the quarantine facility than expected. This also means prolonging the pandemic and putting more people at risk.
COVID-19 patients need to understand that they have a huge responsibility to enhance their quick recovery as well as prevent infection of others. They cannot afford to be careless in the way they conduct themselves.
Given that they know their status, they are expected to be even more cautious by following laid down health regulations of sanitising regularly, wearing masks and observing social distancing.
We could not agree more with Zambia National Public Health Institute director Victor Mukonka that those in quarantine centres are expected to adhere to health regulations and observing social distancing to avert further spread of the pandemic.
Professor Mukonka is disappointed, and justifiably so, that some quarantined asymptomatic patients decided to ignore the guidelines and mingled normally. It is indeed disappointing and worrying that male patients carelessly left their room to join the ladies who were dancing.
Needless to say, the health regulations put in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19 are supposed to be adhered to by all, whether infected or not. That is the only way the battle against the pandemic is going to be won.
The behaviour exhibited by the patients in Chinsali is worrying and calls for serious counselling and cautioning.
Yes, people in quarantine centres should not cover themselves in self-pity and depression, but this does not mean they can interact in any way they want. There is a new normal to be observed – that is, regular sanitising, masking and social distancing.

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