HealthLetters

Zambia must be alert to coronavirus

Dear Editor,

As the Coronavirus continues to claim more lives, it is my appeal that the National Health Emergency Opera- tions Center under the Zambia National Public Health Institution will heighten surveillance of people enter- ing Zambia.

The surveillance should not just focus on people coming from affected countries but even those classified as low risk countries as we can’t afford be on go-slow in terms of health security as some countries can even downplay the virus outbreak in order to save face.

They say safety is better than sorry. Prevention before it hits is key. We can’t wait until someone tests positive for us to go into full-protection mode.

The news making rounds is that the virus has managed to jump borders, with confirmed cases in at least 45 countries.

Now that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has placed Zambia among the 13 top high-risk African countries due to direct links and high volume of travels to and from China, a travel ban on all affected countries should be introduced.

If developed countries like Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand can miss detecting persons that tested positive after travelling, what of Zambia which is still de- pending on a weak health system? Australia has high tech equipment at their air- ports and yet they missed it with the person who came in from Iran.

It is high time tight measures are put in place, Italy has put the spread at 45 per cent one-day increase in infections as virus spreads to other European countries.

Also the movement of animals should be monitored and restricted as the virus can infect animals. A pet dog owned by a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong has tested positive. Government should put health personnel at check points, border points and toll-plaza points.

And the electronic text messages we are receiving from Ministry of Health are not enough. These messages come in English when not all who have phones are capable of reading and under- standing. Why not include local languages? Also, let the Ministry start walk-in sensitizations in schools, church- es, markets on how corona- virus is spread and how to prevent it.

I leave it here, just my thought.

T. MUKUPA From Matero

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