The picture is grim. Things are going to turn rather nasty before they get better. Imagine thousands of people across the country falling sick and dying like flies – buried by a handful of individuals like persons without a home and a country. Imagine death at a scale that surpasses the Aids deaths of the late 1990s. Imagine over 500 funerals in one village! Imagine a whole family, a whole surname being wiped out from the face of the earth! No! This is no exaggeration. We have seen pictures from Spain, Italy and Germany – countries with a far more superior health system to ours. People have been dying there like flies because coronavirus is contagious and has no cure.
Here is the story of Italy. On February 15th, 3 people were infected with coronavirus. Just three! One-week later on February 22nd: 79 cases were reported. Third week, February 29th: 1,128 cases. Fourth week, March 7th: 5,883 people infected. Fifth week, March 14th: 21,157 people infected. 6th week, March 21st: 54,578. Seventh week, March 28th: 92,472. Eight week, April 4th: 124,632 people infected. From three cases to 124,632 known cases in two months. I say “known cases” because the numbers could be higher than reported. What about deaths? Italy reported its first death on February 21st. A week later, February 28th: 21 people were dead. Week two, March 6th: 197 people were dead. Week three, March 13: 1266 people were dead. Week four, March 20th: 4,032 people were dead. Week five, March 27th: 9,134 people were dead. Week six, April 3rd, 14,681 people were dead. From one death to 14,681 deaths in six weeks.
Let us take another case: The case of Spain.
On February 15th, Spain reported 2 people infected with coronavirus. Just two! One-week later February 22nd: the figure had not cases. There were still only two cases. For a while people thought they were safe. Like people in Botswana, they didn’t think they were in danger. The virus appeared too remote – something from elsewhere. But wait! It was just a lull before the storm. Third week, February 29th: 58 cases. Fourth week, March 7th: 5,25 people infected. Fifth week, March 14th: 6,391 people infected. 6th week, March 21st: 25,496. Seventh week, March 28th: 73,235. Eight week, April 4th: 126,168 people infected. From two cases to 126,168 known cases in two months.
What about deaths? Spain reported its first death on March 3rd. A week later, March 10th: 36 people were dead, Week two, March 17th: 533 people were dead. Week three, March 24th: 2,991 people were dead. Week four, March 31st: 8,464 people were dead. Before week five ended on April 5th, 12,641 people were dead. From one death to 12,642 deaths in less than five weeks. That is no joke!
The numbers appear to be worse than anything that could have been be contemplated by any movie script writer from Hollywood. In one day, on March 30th, 913 people were killed by the coronavirus. The situation was to become even worse. On April Fool’s Day, on April 1st, as if the Greek gods were having a laugh at the Spaniards, 923 people died in one day while 961 were wiped out on April 2nd. The statistics coming from Italy were equally horrific as 919 people lost their lives in one day on March 27th.
What are we to learn from these scenarios? Are we learning anything? Have we learnt anything at all? Sadly, it seems we haven’t. We seem to think we are immune from the virus. We need to see people drop dead before we take the situation seriously. People still crowd in our supermarkets and streets. They want permits to visit their cattle posts and lands. They crowd at the District Commission’s office. They don’t want to stay at home. They want to roam the streets, visit friends and socialize. They move from one city to another, from one village to another and from village to city and from city to village. My people have an idiom which captures some of our people’s reckless behaviour: go thanya lomapo lo le tsebeng loosely translated “to wake up with a spike in your ear”. It’s a most painful proposition! It appears many want to see people die first, before they stay at home as instructed. Then, it will be too late.
The coronavirus spike would have been thrust deep into our social consciousness. When we do finally wake up from our slumber, it may just be too late. Let us learn from Italy and Spain. Botswana currently has six confirmed cases and one documented coronavirus fatality. Italy and Spain at one time each had only three confirmed cases. By the time you read this article, Italy and Spain would each have over 160,000 people infected with coronavirus and each will have over 20,000 people killed by the disease. People need to stay at home and avoid crowding. There is still too much movement in our cities. Should we find ourselves in the situation of Italy and Spain, we will be slaughtered. We don’t have enough medication, hospitals, doctors, nurses, ventilators, masks, sanitisers etc. Prevention and not treatment, is the best way out. The police and the army must continue to enforce a lockdown and our people must act responsibly and stay home. If we don’t want to follow the instructions from the Ministry of Health and Wellness Nnyaa betsho a re kgaoganyeng boswa because we will be slaughtered by winter.