The World Health Organisation (WHO) this week declared Coronavirus a pandemic.
This follows the revelation of more than 121,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 114 countries. The WHO also revealed that more than 4,300 people have died. Out of these number over 3,000 died in China, which is the epicentre of the disease.
The WHO defines a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a new disease. It also refers to a disease, which is prevalent over a whole country. To show the seriousness of the pandemic, there has been a 13-fold rise in the number of infections and a tripling of the countries affected in the last two weeks, outside China. Italy comes second and has been put on lockdown recently. And most of the suspected cases of COVID-19 in Africa are from Italy, which has seen the number of dead nationally arising by 196 to 827 in a day.
Curiously, Iran has joined Italy on the frontline of the pandemic and it is a matter of days before other countries join them. That is how serious COVID-19 is, hence the WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called called everyday for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. He said this week that they have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.
The UN agency also expressed deep concern both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction.
It also urged all the nations to redouble efforts to contain the outbreak, adding that aggressive measures could still play a big role to curb the pandemic.
Closer to home, yesterday South Africa confirmed its first local transmission of COVID-19 in the Free State.
The Department of Health yesterday confirmed 17 cases of COVID-19, an additional four cases from the previous day.
Although they are not yet confirmed cases in Botswana, we must not rest on our laurels and think we are safe. Our people travel a lot of South Africa and our borders are porous. There are a lot of illegal cross border movements amongst the people living next to the border between the two countries.
The question that is on everybody’s mind is, is Botswana ready? What are our response measures, safety of our healthcare providers? Do we have some an emergency fund somewhere that can be used appropriately or people are just sleeping on the job?
What are we doing at individual household level to be safe from the pandemic? Are we practicing the basic health tips to avoid infections? The war against COVID-19 is not only for the government or the WHO to fight but for all of us.
“All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilise their people in the response.”
– Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus