CONTRARY to widespread reports that a third COVID-19 wave was already in the country, medical and health experts have assured the nation that the nation was nearing the end of a second of a second wave.
By Michael Gwarisa
There have been speculation over the past few weeks following the surging of COVID-19 cases in schools, triggering fears that a third wave might probably started in the country.
Speaking during a webinar that was organised by the National AIDS Council (NAC), Dr Takunda Sola who is also the Regional Program Manager for Population Services International (PSI) urged citizens to continue adhering to covid prevention measures to avoid a third wave in the forthcoming winter.
When it comes to waves, when you look at it from an epidemiological perspective, there is something that we call an epidemiological curve whereby when you have an infection, first of all your cases go up exponentially and then eventually, they flatten and then they come down.
“You find that when we had our first lockdown, we had our cases going up and eventually it flattened and the lockdown restrictions were eased. Around December we had cases going up exponentially and now we are almost tailing at the end of the that curve. If I were to be asked, I would say we are at a second wave tailing off at the end,” said Dr Sola.
He however added that with winter coming, there was anticipation that a third wave could come but said a third wave does not necessarily mean it will be more contagious and virulent compared to other waves that have been experienced before.
“In winter, there is a possibility of a third wave that’s why we don’t want people to relax or discontinue infection prevention measures because there is a possibility of us getting into a third wave especially in the winter season that’s coming. The second wave that we experienced from December was more associated with the South African variant.
“In order for viruses to survive, they undergo mutations. They change a bit of their gene structure in such a way that if you develop medication that’s targeted towards the strain, the virus might fight off the medication. As the infections have gone on and on, we have had these mutations, we have the Brazil variant and so forth and unfortunately for the healthcare system, we essentially are learning as we go.”
He however applauded Zimbabwe for being an early mover in the response against COVID-19 a move he believes might have spared the nation a great deal of infections.
“What you need to note is that Zimbabwe was an early mover in terms of adopting some of the scientifically proven methods limiting the spread of COVID-19. You find that people were complaining at the initial lockdown because life was so hard.
“But when you look back in retrospect, that was one thing that helped stem the first wave. The measures that were adopted have had an impact in terms of the socio-economic impact but they have also helped immensely when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr Sola.
Meanwhile, Epidemiologist and Public Health Expert, Dr Grant Murewanhema said the COVID-19 epidemic curve was flattening in Zimbabwe but urged citizens not be complacent in the face of COVID-19 and a possible impending third wave.
“Currently our epi-curve has almost flattened with majority of incident cases being local cases. Majority of incident cases are clustered, especially in some schools, with otherwise sporadic transmissions.
“However, failing to control the clustered infections could precipitate widespread community transmission hence the need to isolate and quarantine their contracts in school rather than sending them home. There is need to effectively trace contacts for sporadic cases to quarantine or isolate them as well as accelerate vaccination of teachers and other key players in the education sector,” said Dr Grant.