FROM the time the first cases of Covid-19 were detected about four months ago, July has seen a spike in infection rates and deaths from the deadly respiratory disease. Lusaka once again has been designated as an epicentre, with a number of institutions being affected and having to close down some offices in an effort to curb the spread. As of Monday July 20, there were 3,326 cumulative cases, 1,578 active cases, 1,620 recoveries and 120 deaths.
The rise could be attributed partly to the severe cold weather that the country has been experiencing because some research has shown that the cold can have an influence in the manner that the disease is transmitted.
The other biggest challenge, according to the Ministry of Health, is the non-adherence to health guidelines of using masks, frequent washing of hands with anti-bacterial soap for at least 20 seconds, use of hand sanitiser and social distancing when in public areas or gatherings. There has been some obvious laxity and concern in the way some members of the public have been conducting themselves, which tends to put others at risk.
This rise in Covid-19 cases will naturally also put pupils in examination classes who went back to school more than a month ago at risk. Some pupils come from communities where the disease is spreading rapidly, while others, to get to their schools, have to use public transport where some commuters on buses are not following the set health guidelines. And it is these pupils who are likely to put their school mates at risk of exposure to Covid-19.
The current trend once again calls for stringent measures to be implemented in all schools to protect the pupils against being infected or infecting each other. If measures are ignored, this could lead to pupils being sent back home, a decision which will disadvantage them even further as they prepare to write their exams in a few months’ time.
This is critical because Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary Jobbicks Kalumba has said the ministry will not focus on testing pupils following the peak in cases of Covid-19.
He explained: “It is not in order to test pupils at the moment. This will have a devastating effect on them. What is appropriate is screening and not testing because the psychology of children is critical to the learning process.” It is better to protect the pupils from being exposed to the virus than testing them; an action which would emotionally affect the pupils’ ability to properly prepare for their exams.
As always, the onus is upon everyone to ensure that health guidelines are strictly adhered to. This calls for collective responsibility to ensure the safety of the pupils. And for those children or pupils who are not in examination classes, it is critical for them to continue staying indoors as much as possible and only leave the house if it is really necessary. It is only by strict observance to health guidelines and measures that Covid-19 will be defeated. It has no vaccine or cure at the moment.
Covid-19 is real; stay at home and keep safe!
Remember, children are our future. Until next week, take care.
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