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Price for NOT testing, 10%+ (1.5 m), instead <1%, Zimbabweans will die from covid-19

05 Apr 2020 at 23:13hrs | Views
"Test! Test! Test"! The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised all nations ever since it became clear that the corona virus was very contagious and was spreading. WHO declared covid-19 a pandemic 12 March 2020. Sadly, nearly a month later since the declaration and with 9 confirmed corona virus cases in the country Zimbabwe still continues to drag her feet on testing.
"In terms of testing there is equipment at the National University of Science and Technology and at Mpilo Hospital. We are in the process of combining these so we can do the testing here locally. I understand in Bulawayo we currently have the rapid testing equipment but it is not complete, so they have not started testing, therefore testing is at the moment only being done in Harare where samples from all corners of the country are sent," said the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, July Moyo at a Press conference in Bulawayo.

As of today 5th April 2020, Zimbabwe has 9 confirm corona virus cases one of whom has since died. One would be tempted to take comfort in the small number but they will be wrong. The country has only carried out 316 test which is a drop in a bucketful!

One infected person can meet 5 people in their normal day interaction to whom they could potential infect with the virus. The following day the infected person plus the 5 infected the day before could infect 5 more people each. By the end of the week, 7th day, there will be potential 6 times 6 repeated seven times or 6^7 = 279 936.

In other words after a week, each confirmed corona virus case may have infected 279 936 others who must now be traced and tested. We have 9 confirmed corona virus patients and each has had more one week to infect others and we have only done 316 tests in total! This is a sick joke!

There should be fully equipped and staffed test facilities in each of the country's 10 provinces capable of doing 100 test a day at least.

Zimbabwe's public health service has all but collapsed; there a chronic shortage of doctors and nurses, even big hospitals like Parerenyatwa regularly run out of even the most basic medicine like pain killers and even clean running water. It is naïve to even talking of mobilizing such a crippled health care service to deal with corona virus patients. Of what value will a 50 or even 500 bed corona virus hospital be if the number of people requiring hospital treatment can soar to 50 plus a day in the first week of the outbreak. And the demand for beds then grows exponential for the next three or four months!

Zimbabwe's ill-resourced health care service will be completely overwhelmed within days of the virus outbreak. The country's only fighting chance to contain the virus is by getting ahead of the curve – stop the outbreak happening. By instituting a very aggressive testing program, the nation will detect and isolate the infected person before they have time to spread the virus.

We should not forget that Zimbabwe is in this economic and political mess because of 40 years of gross mismanagement, rampant corruption and tyrannical rule by Zanu PF. The people have failed to remove the party from office all these years because Mnangagwa and company rigged the elections.

The biggest mistake the people of Zimbabwe have ever made was to allow Zanu PF to get away with rigged elections again and again. And, by Jove, we have paid dearly for that folly.  

40 years of Zanu PF misrule have destroyed Zimbabwe's once prosperous economy and 34% of the population now live in extreme poverty. Zanu PF has ridden roughshod over the people, denying them their freedoms and basic rights. Corona virus is pushing the price we are paying for decades of bad governance to new dizzying heights.

Corona virus has wreaked havoc in those countries with well-resourced health services and most important of responsive, competent, accountable and stable government. Still, as many as 1% of these country's population will die from corona virus and the country will slide into deep depression forcing 5% to live in abject poverty.

Zimbabwe's collapsed health service will mean many more lives will be lost; as many as 10% of the population or 1.5 million will die. The economy, in ruins already before the virus outbreak, will sink into even deeper trouble. The number living in abject poverty will double from 34% to 68%!

The price of buying the test kits and carrying out 1 000 test per day for the next three months will be a fraction of the price the nation will pay in human suffering, lost lives and the economic cost in one day should there be a fully fledged corona virus outbreak. It is not too late to start an aggressive test program.

"Test! Test! Test!" WHO advised. For Pete's sake, why are we not testing?

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