Our bet is isolate, keep away
President Peter Mutharika announced on Thursday that Covid-19 is now on home soil.
A 61-year-old woman from Lilongwe who had travelled to India has the virus together with her relative and a domestic worker living with the family.
We knew all along that this day is going to come when we would lose the tag as the only country without a declared case of Covid-19.
Our best bet if we are to be fair with ourselves as a country is to isolate the cases for quarantine and treatment as a fast as possible before they become ‘suicide bombers’ infecting everyone they meet.
We will not survive any other way.
The reason is simple. This disease has overwhelmed countries that have a far superior health infrastructure in Europe and Asia.
Let us not cheat each other, our healthcare delivery system pales significantly to outright inferiority when compared with these.
There has been good news though this week on the prevention front.
Blantyre City Council (BCC) and Lilongwe City Council (LCC) have come up with stringent measures to prevent any possible spread of the coronavirus which causes Covid19, an infectious disease that has claimed over 30,000 lives globally.
Among them are large gatherings which include street vending, receptions, parties and other social get-togethers.
At face value this is a good thing to the residents of the two cities to be protected from Covid 19 although quite a big inconvenience to those that were about to congregate and vendors.
The directive comes just days after LCC also banned wedding receptions and football matches as measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
The cities are not taking any chances and they should not because we are all staring at death with this pandemic that has ravaged more advanced countries such as Italy, Spain, UK and even the US plus China among other countries.
Cities cannot take a risk, at all.
Our lives continue to be turned upside down after BCC Mayor Wild Ndipo also announced to an attentive city that restrictions have also been placed on church gatherings and mandatory preventive measures will be applied for shopping centres, public buses, banks, hospitality industry and all other public places.
The measures certainly infringe on rights and freedoms which Malawians across the country are supposed to enjoy but they are necessary to protect human life for there can never be human rights with death from coronavirus.
The fact that Ndipo said law enforcement agencies will be on the streets to make sure that the measures that he has put in place are adhered to simply means this is not the time to play games.
The mayor reminded residents of the city of some “inexpensive measures” which can help prevent the possible spread of the virus such as handwashing, cough etiquette and social distance.
This is not an easy thing to do especially in a country where only 11 percent of the population sees the need to wash hands even after visiting the toilet.
But fate has finally caught up with us facing death straight in the eye.
It is common knowledge now that the best way is to keep away the disease because the country does not have the capacity to manage crisis levels that the pandemic has reached in other countries.
Let us not cheat each other. We are not there just yet to fight this virus.
Vending has been targeted in cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe where officials are saying it is better to keep vendors in the markets where measures have been in put in place to stop the disease from spreading.
The reality of the matter is that city fathers are aware no city authority in any city in the world allows anybody to sell anything at any place of their choice in the city.
In Malawi, it happens because of the cowardice of populist politicians who think the practice of allowing vendors to sell tomato even in Victoria Avenue will give them votes to win elections.
Understandably, the vendors are not happy as they are worried about their livelihood which is hand-to-mouth.
But if, as a country, we are going to survive the virus, no one is spared from adjusting. No one is spared from suffering the economic ramifications of the virus.
There is no discrimination as big or even small businesses are worried and affected in the same way.
Make no mistake, very soon some Malawians will become jobless as some companies are already doing voluntary lockdowns in an event that on one sunny day government orders it.
I hope it will be for genuine Covid-19 reasons and not to run away from elections.
The reality is we must brace ourselves for anything and be psychologically prepared for a lockdown as we have the disease on home soil and in the event that we have started counting bodies.
Otherwise, the world economy is in turmoil and industries such as aviation are hard hit and below the belt.
American Airlines, one of the world’s richest carriers, says it will apply for $12bn (£9.7bn) in government aid while British Airways is suspending all flights from London’s Gatwick Airport, the UK’s second busiest.
Airports on the other hand are calling for government assistance after revenues fell to almost nothing, according to the Airport Operators Association.
This is a disaster for airlines and the tourism industry in general.
Even on the local scene, conferences have been cancelled as both local and international travel has been limited everywhere.
The World Bank, on the other hand, says “significant economic pain seems unavoidable” in the Asia Pacific region signalling danger to world economy.
This disease is a real pain in the wrong place. Our bet is to quickly isolate cases and treat if only to survive.