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Health talk: Mandatory wearing of masks can now be scrapped

The Standard logo The Standard 06/08/2022 TheStandard News

Dr Johannes MarisaCovid-19 came and caused untold suffering to many people in this world. Many people succumbed to the heinous virus in this world.

Although it is estimated that about 6,4 million people lost their lives since the beginning of the pandemic on December 31, 2019, more unrecorded people died from the virus or the effects of the virus. Almost every family was affected in one way or another.

The calamitous nature of the virus was appreciated in the year 2020 when in January, the beta variant wreaked havoc.

It was to be followed by the delta variant in June 2020 which was diabolical in nature, with many cases of respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary embolism, renal failure, protracted pneumonia.

Diabetes Mellitus became one of the most obnoxious diseases with high mortality if comorbidities were considered.

The 4th wave had the fastest variant in the form of the Omicron virus which however had the lowest case fatality rate. The world was better prepared as vaccinations were rolled out globally and fear was no longer as prevalent as during the other phases.

People should know that Covid-19 is still causing misery in the world and the world is recording close to 800 000 daily cases with Germany and US reporting nearly 80 000 cases on a daily basis.

About 2000 lives are being lost on a daily basis, a figure which is still worrisome. Covid-19 is still a menace, hence the need to remain vigilant about it.

Africa is a blessed continent since the start of the pandemic. The entire continent is recording about 10 deaths on a daily basis with less than 3 400 cases on the daily radar.

About 256 900 people lost their lives in Africa despite the poor health infrastructure, under-staffing, brain drain and shortage of essential drugs.

The continent stood firm and Zimbabwe managed to contain the loathsome virus mainly through strict public health measures which included lockdowns, masking-up, social distancing, hand-washing and sanitisation.

The country lost at least 5 578 people although the number can be higher than this reported one because of poor reporting of data.

Special mention should go to our diligent healthcare workers who were brave enough to face the Covid-19.

With Covid-19 cases now on their lowest in Africa as a whole, I am of the opinion that mandatory wearing of masks should now be shelved.

Botswana, like many other countries, has also removed mandatory masking-up since cases nose-dived and Zimbabwe seems to be out of the woods at the moment.

It will be in the interests of everyone to free themselves from masks which have been dangling on chins for long now.

It will be prudent to consider masks for people who are in close settings such as public transport, indoor public meetings because of close contacts and possibly limited ventilation.

I do not see it important to continue with the wearing of masks at this juncture when Covid-19 cases are very low.

We should just remain vigilant, practising maximum disease surveillance, doing robust contact tracing and executing speedy case management.

If there is an upsurge of cases, then it will be prudent to revert to masking up.

Government can therefore free us from mandatory masking-up till a time when we feel the virus is beginning to germinate again.

Monkey pox has caused headlines in the past weeks but we have no reason to worry about a virus that has been in existence for over 51 years in Africa. The virus is an orthopoxvirus that has been endemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1971.

Although masking-up remains key in the containment of the virus, it is not yet time to take such measures in our country where no single case of the virus has been identified.

When time for strict public health measures appears, we are more than ready as a nation.

Government can thus spare us from mandatory masking-up. We can do better together!

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