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The only strategy against Covid-19 is testing, 1 000 plus daily - only 316 done in 3 months

03 Apr 2020 at 23:06hrs | Views

One more person has tested positive of corona virus bringing the total in Zimbabwe to 9. Here is the summary:

30 March Cumulative number of test - 316
Negative - 307
Positive - 9
Death - 1

Zimbabwe's only hope of avoiding the high numbers of infected requiring hospital treatment and the deaths as seen in many other countries is for the country to adopt a very aggressive test and trace strategy - even more aggressive than that of South Korea. Zimbabwe does not have the economic muscle and its health care service has all but collapse; the country will struggle to deal with 10 hospitalized corona virus patients a month much less the 100 plus a day should the outbreak happen!

What would constitute aggressive testing and tracing?

Data from China and other countries shows that a corona virus infected person can infect two others every day. At the end of the first day there will be 3 people with the virus included the first person. End of the second day there will be 3x3 = 9. End of third day 3x3x3 = 27. By the end of the week, 7 days 3^7 = 2 187.  

On average person will come into close contact with 5 people every day (infecting 2 out the 5 as above) End of first day there will be 6 (including the infected person) to trace. End of day two 6x6 = 36 and so on with end of the week 6^7 = 279 936!

So if one corona virus infected person, just one, slips into the country and roams freely for just one week over 250 000 individuals must be traced and tested. 9 different individuals have slip through and each has had a week to spread the virus and so we should have traced and tested over 2 million. Yet so far the country has traced and tested only 316 people or 0.014%!

South Korea prioritized identifying and isolating people testing positive for the disease, and developed capacity to run about 15,000 diagnostic tests a day. It has conducted more than 300,000 tests to date, free of charge, including in drive-through testing booths since replicated elsewhere.

So far, only the late Zororo Makamba required specialized hospital treatment, which he did not get because the was none. The government's repeated assurance that Wilkins Hospital was ready to take corona virus patients was a lie. Many corona virus patients will suffer and die because Zimbabwe will not have the specialist care they need.

It is all very well to have a lockdown but without data from test to monitor how the virus is spreading; the lockdown may well be counter-productive. Many people traveled from urban, for all we know spreading the virus from epicenters, to their rural home.
Zimbabwe must step up the testing and tracing, to 1 000 plus day.  by now. It is the only effective tool the country has to mitigate the devastating consequence of the corona virus we know is spreading like wildfire in our midst!

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