Over a hundred countries initiated partial or full lockdowns in a bid to curb and control the spread of the novel coronavirus. The virus has been topical for over half a year and it is likely to go on hogging the spotlight for who knows how many more months?
Silently creeping in like the silent darkness of the night, coronavirus cases have so far (23 May 2020) reached a hundred thousand in Africa with a 42% recovery rate and 3% death rate according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
With the ongoing lockdowns, the governments are facing intense pressures from the economic and social ends of the crisis.
New essential services are being identified at every level of engagement. Recently the American President, Donald Trump took the liberty to declare places of worship as essential services.
“Today I am identifying houses of worship, churches synagogues and mosques as essential places that provide essential service. “Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”
On the other end, the world economy is crumbling at the face of crisis similarly to the World War 2 times. Third World countries are most likely to be hard hit with the underprivileged constituency mostly suffering from poverty and other effects of the lockdown measurements.
According to the World Bank, Africans living in extreme poverty stood at 41% in 2015 and due to population growth the numbers will keep rising.
The economies are not well suited for longer periods of total lockdown and even the governments cannot also sustain normal operations without little revenue pouring in save for aid from Covid-19 responding international organisations.
Bowing to the forceful pressures, some African leaders are partially lifting lockdowns and steadily‘business as usual’ is impending.
Authorities are also facing pressure from the citizens themselves and not so much has been done to avert public attitude towards the lockdown and other measures to mitigate its spread.
Closer to home in South Africa and Malawi protests have been ongoing with people demonstrating against the lockdown, which according to them is also a threat to their livelihoods.
Zimbabwe has also not been spared with the opposition parties also allegedly organising a lockdown in one of the capital’s suburbs Warren Park recently.
It’s a matter of choosing your kind of death! Correspondingly, it is unfortunate that the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus is also surging when lockdown measures are relaxed.
Case studies can be drawn from Senegal where they realised a 30% jump in the number of cases just one day after relaxing the lockdown on the 11th of May 2020.
Ghana had had 408 cases when they lifted their lockdown in April and the cases have hit 6 617 in May. The same can be said for Nigeria.
Likewise, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa eased the lockdown with 5 951 cases and as we are celebrating Africa Day the cases have surged to 20 125 confirmed cases.
The society is slowly getting along with the ‘new normal’ and people are readying themselves to live with the virus.
It is with these impatient times, when people are already sliding into their comfort zones that coronavirus, like a hyena dressed in sheep’s clothing silently spreads.
Authorities must take serious precautions before making decisions on the lockdown and must constantly wake up citizen’s conscience from the druid sleep.
Weakened health systems must be strengthened, intensified testing and tracing mechanisms are critical before touching the chess board.
Measures must be put in place to protect those who are vulnerable, considering the intensity of the informal sector in Zimbabwe or else the government risks fighting an impending war with the stealth COVID-19.
The virus is more patient, like a male lion stalking its prey.