Saturday, August 15, 2020

We just have to accept that Coronavirus will be with humanity for a long time

Botswana like the rest of the world has with time become more aware of the effects of Coronavirus pandemic on the economy but also on the health of people.

A lot has still to be learnt including scientists who are at the forefront.

But there is no exaggerating that capabilities have generally improved.

At the beginning the strategy was to close down economies and hope that by the time they were reopened Coronavirus would have passed. That has proved more wishful.

Since many of the world economies opened after widespread lockdown, it has become clear that Coronavirus is spreading with much greater vigour and speed than was the case when most of the world first went into lockdown.

One of the positives is that it has also become clear that scientists are fast learning the virus itself, including how it spreads.

This adds to a lot of information as to whether or not the virus is airborne and also the long-term effects on people that catch the virus.

All these are very important. But learning that coronavirus spreads at a much greater speed than was first thought has been most humbling.

That has put paid to most of the strategies that mankind had known or devised to effectively fight it and others similar to it before.

It follows therefore that trying to run after the virus would in time lead to the collapse of many economies across the world. That means we need a total rethink of initial strategies.

Until a vaccine is found humanity might have to live side by side with the virus.

Lockdowns have proved economically deleterious even for bigger and more sophisticated countries.

For poor countries especially in Africa, it has been a ruin on the economies.

We need to learn to live with coronavirus.

Most practices against this virus are really basic and near universal; washing hands, social distancing and also covering nose and mouth with masks.

Botswana’s economy, like those of many countries in Africa cannot afford another lockdown.

The disruptions that the last lockdown has had on the economy are heart wrenching.

It will be years before the country’s eco0nomy is back to pre-pandemic levels.

It was clear after the lockdown that the informal sector was almost wrecked to death.

Those who work in this sector almost starved to death as relief from the state was neither enough nor timely.

Many businesses came from precipice while others literally fell of the cliff edge.

Strategies against the pandemic have to graduate towards testing, contact tracing, isolating and improving capacities of hospitals.

The current strategy by Botswana government to increase vigilance at borders is most appropriate, especially given the prevalence rate of other neighbouring countries in the region.

Botswana’s testing capacity remains very low.

This inhibits on the country’s abilities to fight localized flareups if they happen.

As it is such flareups might happen unnoticed on account of low testing capabilities of the country.

Particular attention should be given to workplaces and shopping malls.

Unfortunately it looks like after reopening, we are letting our guard down.

Admittedly, fatigue has set in as it naturally does. But the Covid-19 Task Force is not as pro-active as one could have hoped especially given that the danger is far from over, in fact it has exacerbated.

Another lockdown would be disastrous for Botswana.

The country is currently under a State of emergency. But there is no guarantee that society will respect the orders under a second lockdown. The lockdown restrictions took a heavy toll on families and individuals. It will be years before the nation fully heals.

There are already signals that society feels like they have been tested beyond the limit.

They are very unlikely to cooperate in the event of a second lockdown.

That became clear when recently the president ordered a lockdown of the Greater Gaborone region.

It lasted for only a few days, but people were clearly rebelling.

The country should move towards learning ways of living with the virus.

This means perfecting national lockdowns to much smaller and localized areas.

This should be more targeted.

This will require a greater agility on the part of the Covid-19 Task Force.

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