Professor Solwayo Ngwenya: Change your behaviour or perish, 3rd wave is deadlier. Government has — with effect from Monday — banned all gatherings, except funerals, in new Covid-19 containment measures aimed at containing the third wave of the pandemic.
Top doctor, Professor Solwayo Ngwenya has warned the population to change their complacent behaviour if they are to survive a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, as he fears the health care system will be overwhelmed.
Vice President and Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Constantino Chiwenga, announced the new measures on Saturday saying last week Zimbabwe recorded 596 new cases and 26 deaths, a figure authorities believe was a consequence of complacency in communities and at workplaces.
Funerals shall be limited to 30 people while all other gatherings are banned including, but not limited to weddings, church gatherings, music festivals and sports activities. Health inspectors and law officers will be on high alert in the coming weeks to ensure adherence to the measures, while travellers will be strictly vetted.
In an interview with H-Metro on Sunday, Professor Ngwenya welcomed the measures announced by the government adding that authorities should continue to watch population behaviour.
The acting Mpilo Central Hospital chief executive has consistently warned Zimbabweans against complacency although some social media people have dismissed him as an alarmist.
QUESTION: You seem to suggest the Covid-19 3rd wave will be deadliest, what informs your prediction?
ANSWER: Historically, viruses have always come in waves and populations adapt to the waves. From epidemiological history, my father witnessed the Spanish flu of 1918 and the same thing happened, the people were very complacent on the first few waves.
They were floored by the third and fourth waves so from this pandemic, my predictions have been informed by quite a lot of research. Seeing how the people are complacent, we have already warned about being complacent, we have already warned about the new waves and variants, the third will be the deadliest because with this complacency, the population has allowed the virus to wide spread and there are many people who are carrying the virus, spreading it and not being tested.
Q: What is the role of vaccination under the circumstances?
A: The role of vaccinations during a peak of a wave is really minimum because as long as you haven’t reached 60 percent of your population, and then you have a wave on top of that vaccinations won’t have any effect.
The force of the wave is overwhelming that the effects from the vaccination will be minimum because the vaccination effects need more than 28 days and you need two doses to be active and by then, the third wave will already be upon you.
Q: At what stage or when would you say the 3rd wave “arrived” in Zimbabwe?
A: I have already said this before, the third wave arrived in March when we relaxed the lockdown, the cases started going up and the population became complacent.
Many people are mistaken and they think that the wave is when there are deaths and pandemonium, a wave builds up over time, it looks like the shape of a mountain, you begin at the foot of the mountain till you get to the top.
Right now we are near the top, we haven’t reached the peak yet, and that’s when you see a lot of cases, a lot of deaths and pandemonium. Many people wake up when we are at the peak but the third wave started long back and I have said this publicly. Q: On the measures announced by government, what else would you recommend to contain the pandemic?
A: The measures announced by the government are welcome measures, its first step and they must continue to watch population behaviour and if the people continue being complacent with the virus spiking, we will be calling on them to put stricter lockdown measures to save lives.
Q: What is your take on localised lockdowns in Zimbabwe? What does it take for them to work?
A: The role of localised lockdowns in Zimbabwe is way behind the virus, the virus is already ahead of us. Localised lockdowns will not work because I have noticed that people still travel and hitchhike from one town to another despite being said to be under localised lockdown. The infection is widespread anyway, throughout the country, throughout the region and throughout Africa, even if we localise, the infection will still grow. It’s the behaviour of the population which is atrocious and allowing the virus to spread.
Q: Schools are due to reopen month-end, should this be reviewed?
A: It will be unwise to reopen schools in the middle of a pandemic situation like this. I don’t see the need to open schools in the middle of the catastrophe that’s pending, at the end of this month people will be crying with a lot of people dying.
Q: Some reports suggest the 3rd wave is affecting children, how far true is this?
A: Yes some countries have reported third wave, especially the new variants from other continents they seem to affect children and we need to be very careful about this wave before we all get sicker and sicker.
Q: On our public transport system, do you think it is equipped to contain Covid-19?
A: No, public transport isn’t equipped to contain coronavirus because the moment you pack people into a bus and overload it and close the windows, you are actually increasing the spread of the virus. The public transport system that’s currently in place is not helping at all and needs to be reviewed.
Q: And the open vegetable markets?
A: Vegetable markets are super-spreaders they are increasing further spread of the virus so maybe the government will have to look into it, I have already told you that the population doesn’t have proper and those markets are probably the next places to be closed down
Q: Anything else you might want to share on the third wave?
A: This is the time when people are supposed to take warnings seriously, I am not issuing alarmist warnings here, I am telling the truth, consistent truth, if people don’t behave and listen, people are going to die because we are not going to cope. Our health care system and health workers will be overwhelmed by the third wave and we will not cope. The population must behave and change their behavior to save lives.
Source – H-Metro
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