There’s no normal anymore, Zimbabwe. Can’t you see it? It’s now marked all over our faces, our voices? Can’t you see the horror of it? Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo has just confirmed the death of young and prominent media personality Zororo Makamba who was under hospital care at Wilkins Hospital in Harare. The thirty years old son of the businessman James Makamba succumbed to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), an infectious disease that causes a respiratory illness with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing.
Zororo was one of the two people who tested positive for the coronavirus which is now a global pandemic and has claimed thousands of lives.
I know that sometimes when faced with a life-altering and potentially life-ending crisis, the performance of resilience can be an anaesthetic; an anxiety-engulfing balm that allows us to make space for an effective counter-punch. Also, it just feels good to tell ourselves, and others that “We got this” and “We’re built for this.” But if there’s any message that the immunologists and geneticists and epidemiologists are committed to communicating to us, it’s that COVID-19 is so deadly because our immune systems just haven’t seen this before, either black, brown, orange or white. The only effective defence is to admit to ourselves, now, that “We don’t got this” and “We’re not built for this.” And then, well, change.
At least 14,750 people globally have died from COVID-19, while more than 340,000 infections have been confirmed in at least 177 countries and territories. In many countries, schools, gyms, museums, and other venues have been shut, and people have been ordered to stay at home and seek permission for essential travel in a bid to slow the virus’s spread. Festivals, tours and other gatherings have been cancelled or postponed.
In our hunkered-down times, social distance has become the new thing.
The violence of this sort of social, emotional, and economic whiplash is something we just haven’t been able to process, and it’s fine to admit that. It’s fine to admit that we’re scared or at least that I’m. It’s fine to admit that you’re possessed with anxiety and dread. It’s fine to admit that you just don’t know. It’s fine to admit that you were wrong a month or a week or a day or an hour ago to downplay this. And it’s not just fine to admit these things to yourself, it’s necessary. It’s paramount. It’s life-saving. It might feel counterintuitive and weak like you’re laying down and giving up, but embracing that there’s so much unknown, and so much to be terrified of, allows pride, ego, insolence — each of which are legitimately life-threatening now — to dissipate and be replaced with vigilance, attentiveness and dexterity.
Everything about what’s happening now is new, and to pretend otherwise — to act like you’re built for this and you got this — will literally kill people.
Remember that information about COVID-19 is still evolving. Experts are taking steps to address it and reduce infections. If you feel ill or you’re exhibiting flu-like symptoms like fever and cough, you should call your medical provider for advice. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience emergency warning signs, including difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or ability to arouse, or bluish lips or face. This list is not inclusive, so consult your medical provider if you notice other concerning symptoms.
As with a cold, a flu vaccine won’t protect people from developing COVID-19. However, while doctors learn more about transmission, the best thing you can do at this point is to take care of yourself the way you would to prevent yourself from getting the flu. You know you can get the flu when people sneeze and cough on you, or when you touch a doorknob. Thus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that you #DoTheFive simple preventive actions:
- Hands. Wash them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Dry them thoroughly with an air dryer or clean towel. If soap isn’t available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Elbow. Cough and sneeze into it.
- Face. Don’t touch it.
- Feet. Stay more than 3ft(1 meter) apart.
- Feel sick? Stay home.