So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. –– Numbers 21:9
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. — Psalm 91:1-2
With the coronavirus, which is also known as the COVID-19, spreading around the world like a forest fire, there is no minute to lose on dilly-dallying with lukewarm approached that could be costly to the country’s human resources. There are strategies that the government is mandated to establish in order to prevent the catastrophic spread of the disease. There is also the need for Malawians to act in protecting themselves from contracting or spreading the disease. A laid-back approach will only produce dire consequences.
One of the most desired things my brothers and sisters and I wanted to do when we returned from my father’s 10-year diplomatic tour, was to eat a mango straight from a tree. So, surely as I attempted to bite the most natural-straight-from-the-tree mango I had eaten in 10 years, I was stopped with a loud shriek from my Aunt Dahlia: ”Nooooo! Don’t eat that mango, you’ll get cholera!”
It was my first time hearing the word cholera, but it was also my first time hearing that cholera can be found on freshly plucked mango. A 15-minute lesson by my Aunt, on washing all fruits followed; however, my knowledge of the campaign to rid Malawi of the cholera epidemic was buttressed by half-hourly radio commercials on the MBC radio.
This was in 1974. The cholera outbreak had been a Malawi and African epidemic. It came to an end; however, the message of cleaning fruits and vegetables remained with me forever, as if perhaps the cholera strain might have remained there on fruits and vegetables.
There have been global epidemics and pandemics before such as the two influenza epidemics that spread between 1918 to 1919 in the USA and Russia. This killed 20 million people. In 1957-58, one million people died due to the Asian flu. In 1968-69, the Hong Kong flu was blamed for 700,000 deaths. In 1977-1978, the Russian flu that spread from China and Russia also killed 700,000 people. And recently, the avian influenza was slated by the United Nations to kill up to two million or more people.
As deadly as they were, international organizations cooperated with country machineries to contain the epidemics. It is alarming that with the COVID-19 epidemic in it’s short lifespan, over 85 countries have registered cases of persons infected with the virus and already 95,000 people have died as a result of the virus.
Fears are mounting resulting in thousands of people being quarantined, schools in Japan and Italy closing, fans staying away from sports such as soccer and Olympic competitions, borders closed, international and some local flights being canceled to certain destinations (mostly to China, the origin and the epicenter of the coronavirus). It’s been reported that the government in one country bought a hotel to accommodate persons infected with the virus; this is a means of easing congestion in hospital ICUs.
Coming back to Malawi, what is the government doing about the threat of the epidemic reaching Malawi? What can Malawians do to avoid contracting the virus and infecting other people? Is the Ministry of Health working with the Disaster Preparedness Department to avert the epidemic getting to unmanageable proportions? And lastly, what messaging strategies has the government (through government-funded outlets such as MBC and Malawi News agency) unleashed to prepare the populace in avoiding the deadly virus?
There are questions I asked Minister of Health Jappie Mhango. He has yet to respond to my WhatApp message.
As people read or watch the news, and fears mount, the government should provide regular updates as this deadly situation continues to rapidly evolve, as it did with cholera, HIV, Ebola (remembering former Member of Parliament for Lilongwe City Centre, David Bisnowarty, who during the Ebola epidemic scar, went around airports to donate Ebola testing equipment in 2016).
However, Government action is only a part of our response to the coronavirus; the people must take charge and play the critical role in arresting the spread of the virus. As the famous proverb states: our lives are in our hands.
Outlined below is the life-saving wisdom floating in the media on coronavirus spread prevention techniques.
* Wash hands often with soap and water (for as long as it takes to sing happy birthday song twice).
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
* Avoid contact with people who are sick.
* Avoid shaking hands.
* Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
* Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
* Remind people around you to cover their mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
* Drink plenty of water.
* Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and vitamin C-rich foods (these will build-up your immune system that will fight the virus).
* Exercise lots of prudent faith and trust, by being positive in what you say.
* No jokes about the coronavirus, it is a deadly disease.
As you learn and practice these life-saving strategies against the coronavirus, please be like my Aunt Dahlia, let the children also learn and put them into practice in their lives.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :