NEW coronavirus strains including a Delta variant sub-strain are already giving the world headaches, amidst indications that countries such as Russia and United Kingdom and even China have started recording record high death tolls and new infections linked to new strains.
By Michael Gwarisa
According to the Russian federal agency inspecting consumer rights protection and human wellbeing, several cases of AY.4.2, a new Delta sub-variant of coronavirus were already being detected. A report by Russia’s coronavirus emergency task force, indicates that the COVID-19 cases went up by 36,339 over the last 24 hours, taking the overall count to 8.13 million. Russia’s death toll climbed to 227,389 after 1,036 more people died of the virus over the same period.
Speaking to Health Times, Dr Agness Mahomva, the Chief COVID-19 coordinator in the office of the President and Cabinet said even though Zimbabwe was not under any known threat from a new or emerging COVID-19 strain at the moment, it was wise for citizens to exercise caution and adhere to World Health Organisation (WHO) prevention guidelines.
Communities are urged to remain vigilant, pay attention to all precedents on measures and get vaccinated. This is the best way of protecting ourselves from COVID-19 infection including any new variants,” said Dr Mhomva.
Zimbabwe is emerging from a dark horrific third wave of the Coronavirus that left a trail of destruction and irreparable damage. However, experts have of late been warning of an impending Fourth wave that could have catastrophic consequences if complacency continues and if vaccination is not ramped up.
Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) Executive Director, Mr Itai Rusike said Zimbabwe should jealously guard and protect the gains that the country had achieved with its COVID-10 national vaccination roll-out program.
“We should not allow the level of complacency that we are now seeing being exhibited by most of the general public in terms of complacence or adherence to the WHO recommended guidelines and protocols on COVID-19. We should also encourage each other especially at this moment, it has to be an individual responsibility and a community responsibility in making sure that a lot more Zimbabweans come forward and get vaccinated.
“What is happening elsewhere in Russia and United Kingdom whereby they are now experiencing a steep rise in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations, deaths and also the mutant delta variant should send some frightening messages to us because these are countries that had vaccinated huge numbers, more than 60% of their populations. But because they suddenly quickly opened up in terms of lowering the COVID-19 restriction measures, they are now in serious trouble,” said Mr Rusike.
The United Kingdom has of late been recording not less 100 deaths everyday due to the COVID-19 and according to Mr Rusike, if the Delta variant mutant was to find its way into Zimbabwe, there could be a crises of double proportions.
“Our hospitals are obviously going to be overwhelmed and especially now when they are overstretched in terms of human resources for health. We are all aware that our nurses are no longer going on strike because they are just resigning and packing their bags and going. There is a serious shortage of human resources in our health delivery system even with the challenges that we are facing on the low uptake of vaccines generally being caused by the information gaps and also misinformation and disinformation.
“It is important that the authorities should take a lead in terms of a sustained COVID-19 vaccine literacy, health education and awareness campaigns. We need community ownership.
“We need an informed public, we need active community participation in the whole COVID-19 vaccination program and making sure that communities do not lower their guard because the reality on the ground right now is not encouraging. Very few people are still following the guidelines and it will be very sad if this Delta mutant comes our way now that we are also opening our boarders and now it is easy to travel from the UK, Russia.”