GWERU: The second Covid-19 wave in Zimbabwe has not been forgiving as deaths have been on an upward spiral since the turn of the New Year.
Statistics are becoming faces people know.
Both citizens and authorities became complacent, and the obtaining carnage is a direct outcome.
Without a known scientific cure, people are stretching for anything within their reach in search of relief.
As of January 16, confirmed deaths had reached 666, with the plunging recovery rate standing at 59 percent.
Prominent doctors, like Mpilo Hospital Director Professor Solwayo Ngwenya have been painting a grim picture.
In the absence of scientific solutions, religion takes centre stage.
Men of cloth have been making claims that they can cure Covid-19 through intercession.
A number of pastors and prophets have emerged with live sessions where they say that attendees have been promised reprieve from the raging pandemic.
One of the prophets, Charles Mpala who has been holding Covid-19 healing sessions through social media told CommuTalk that pandemics have been in existence from biblical times and prayer has always played a part in fighting them.
“Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment but by prayer and their belief systems.
“If we go into the Bible, Jesus healed Peter`s mother of fever flu so this is not the first time Jesus is healing the kind of these diseases,” he said.
The Harare based prophet is of the belief that the pandemic has an unintended effect of returning people to believing that all answers lie with the Lord.
In his work, he has not been discouraging his followers from taking conventional medicine as Covid-19 therapy.
Unlike some of his preacher colleagues who have been pushing forward conspiracy theories against impending vaccines being worked on the world over, Mpala is of a different opinion.
“Vaccines are good if they are serving their special purposes but there are some doubts pertaining to these vaccines so people should be given a priority to choose and vaccines should be given to people but there should be no doubt within them,” said Mpala.
Traditional healers have also been making claims in equal measure.
Government last year gave a green light to herbalists who think they have methods to treat Covid-19.
However, Prince Sibanda who is Secretary for Education Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (ZINATHA) says people are mostly self-medicating as they have access to the herbs and are making their own concoctions.
Memory Chandisaita, of Southlea Park Harare who sells herbs says though she wishes Covid-19 to go away, she has enjoyed the best business since she joined the trade.
“Zumbani (fever tree) is selling fast, I used to stock a sack for the whole month but for now it sells out within a week,” she said.
Some are even considering taking snuff as precaution against Covid-19, as it stands no one can dispute or endorse the reasoning.
Experts have refrained from dissuading people from taking natural remedies that may work.
In a recent interview with 263Chat journalist Lovejoy Mtongwiza, Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said people should take natural remedies if they believe they will be of help as the world waits for medicinal solutions.
He said natural remedies if taken well, they can minimise the damage by the pandemic.
Government has spelt out a number of non-medicinal interventions like lockdowns, strict screening, social distancing, but have not been clear on the medicinal side, leaving people to their own devices.
The vaccine debate has been raging, with popular prophets like Emmanuel Makandiwa warning people against taking the vaccine.
He made claims that the 5G network is behind Covid-19, a scientific untruth in itself.
Such sentiments are a harsh reminder of how Zimbabwe has lost in the past due to the conflation of religion and science, where preachers believe they can explain every aspect of life in spiritual terms.
During the early 2000s many Zimbabweans lost their lives after defaulting their antiretroviral medication after receiving questionable religious advice.
It appears like we are headed for similar times, if these spiritual players are not called to order.
Zimbabwe is finalising modalities to adopt a vaccine, with the Ministry of Health and Child Care saying it is currently checking out possible options for safety.
At a press conference last week, Health Minister and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said, the vaccine is going to be voluntary.
“I am also aware that some of our citizens are anxious to get vaccinated. The Government is following the development and dissemination of COVID 19 vaccines by other states, with keen interest.
“Despite the observations made that other African, European and Asian countries had started rolling out vaccines, Zimbabwe adopted a measured approach, with experts interrogating all safety concerns. As soon as all technical and administrative obligations are met, Zimbabweans can expect to be vaccinated. The vaccination is going to be voluntary,” said VP Chiwenga.
He also said although there is no scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of traditional herbs in fighting Covid-19, people should be guided by their own experiences in consuming them.
Doctors on Twitter have been sending distress calls urging people to stay at home.
Public hospital beds are said to be full -although authorities are vehemently denying this – to get admitted at private facilities one has to part ways with at least US$2500 to get an admission.
It is a desperate time for citizens of a country facing death in the eye.