Until today, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that there is no vaccine or cure for Covid-19. Drugs are being administered to treat symptoms with the latest being dexamethasone, which has been hailed as a breakthrough in the treatment of the coronavirus disease.
The Malagasy herbal concoction, Covid Organics, is yet to be confirmed, certified and prescribed by the WHO and other international health organisations as a cure for Covid-19. Of course, vaccines are being trialed worldwide but, we emphasise, no anti Covid-19 vaccine or cure is currently available.
Meanwhile, as of Thursday, the Johns Hopkins University in the USA reports that over 8 million people worldwide have been confirmed to have caught the coronavirus and over 450 000 have since died. The good news is that there are more recoveries than deaths. The sad news is that the Covid-19 infections are increasing worldwide.
There appears to be positive correlation between countries whose leaders think Covid-19 is a hoax and the number of infections. Initially, President Donald Trump did not take Covid-19 seriously until America became the epicenter of the disease.
And until today, Trump has never appeared in public with a mask.
In Latin America, Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has behaved worse than the man he admires most, Donald Trump.
He has dismissed Covid-19 and urged Brazil’s states to keep their economics open. Today, Brazil is second to the US in terms of infections and most obsevers predict that Brazil will soon become the next Covid-19 epicentre.
This is in sharp contrast with the leaders of China and most countries in Europe who asked their people to wear masks, wash hands with soap, and observe social and physical distancing in public.
In countries where leaders lead by example, the Covid-19 cases have been managed with New Zealand reporting almost zero new cases in two months. In China, Italy, Spain, Britain, and France the situation is improving, partly due to the commitment and exemplary behaviour of the countries’ leaders.
In Africa, more than 260 000 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed and over 7 000 deaths recorded. Observers indicate that had President Cyril Ramaphosa behaved like Trump or Bolsonaro, the number of cases in South Africa would have been much higher.
In Malawi, the number cases has risen astronomically since May 2020 when official political campaigns intensified and Malawi welcomed its citizens that had been stranded in South Africa.
Most of the returnees, some of whom tested and confirmed as coronavirus positive, bolted from their places of quarantine and are now mingling with the general populace.
As one medical doctor warned, Malawi is sitting on a Covid-19 time bomb. We have been so laid back and dismissive of the disease as if God created us in special way. Political leaders are the worst culprits. Some have openly told the public that Covid-19 is a fluke. President Mutharika has not demonstrated the expected leadership. Apart from reading statements about the gravity of Covid-19, he has scarcely been seen with a mask in public.
For example, during the nomination paper presentation ceremony in Blantyre, President Mutharika distinguished himself as the Covid-19 denialist par excellence in the line of Donald Trump and Bolsonaro. The other candidates wore masks. But he walked into the room wearing no mask. His dearest professor wife wore no mask either. The message he was sending to the public was that, indeed, Covid-19 was not a medical threat to Malawians and as president, he was insulated.
Similar attitudes led to the decimation of the Malawi population in the early years of HIV and Aids. The State hid information about HIV for a long time. This State irresponsibility, compounded by our fatalistic religious and cultural beliefs, impacted heavily on Malawi’s economy as many young people, the engine of a smallholder agriculture economy, died. Had it not been for the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) which made Aids medicine readily available to Africa, Malawi included, our graveyards would have been full by now.
Our political leaders, particularly the State President, should lead by example in the fight against Covid-19. The president should be practicing what he preaches. Some of us will not hesitate to blame him ‘fairly and squarely’ if the Covvid-19 situation in Malawi aggravates.
On Tuesday 23 June 2020, go ye all and vote wisely and conscientiously but remember to wear a mask, wash hands regularly with soap or use a recommended hand sanitiser and maintain social and physical distance on the voting queues.
See you at the presidential swearing-in ceremony.