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Dr. Misango: Lockdown In African Countries In This Coronavirus Pandemic Is A Stupid Idea

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By Dr. Sam Misango

I want to dispel this myth about containment of a disease in the developing world, specifically Sub-Saharan African States.
This applies to matters pandemic and Covid-19, because this is where we are.

In very simple language, the management of pandemics goes through different stages, facilitated and generously financed by the World Health Organisation (WHO)

1. The existence of a national pandemic disaster management plan
2. Pandemic Disease Onset Surveillance System
3. Activation of Containment mechanisms for infected and suspected persons/animals
4. Prevention of infection among the well members of the population
5. Treatment and disease mitigation for the infected and affected persons
6. Post pandemic assessment and lessons learnt
7. Preparation for the next surge or next pandemic

Most African countries that are WHO affiliated have a national pandemic disaster management plan (on paper) which can be tweaked to handle any sub type of disaster.

The disaster management plan is activated by an efficient surveillance system that should pick the earliest occurrence of an infection in the community. Operative term here is efficient surveillance system (eg in Cuba primary health care system)

The containment restricts the initial infection to the focus point of origin, or to multiple foci points of origin, to prevent its spread and enable the management system to study the characteristics of the new disease, and prepare or tweak the system to deal with the anticipated increasing numbers of the infection.

The containment is usually not sustainable beyond 2 months since the social economic side effects of the containment measures have to be weighed against the benefits of preventing the spread of the disease which eventuallly reaches its peak of new infections then decline.

New cases will continue erupting inspite of strict containment measures because they are as a combined result of multiple origin foci and spread by previously infected persons. The system characterizes new cases by aggressive screening and categorizing them into mild, moderate or severe and critical illnesses.

When the system is efficient and can pick out new cases as they arise, it can show how new cases are increasing even in containment and eventually peak then drop off as a graph, with or without treatment/mitigating measures.

That is why containment helps in flattening the curve…of new cases.

When the system reacts after the virus has been in circulation for an unknown period of time, containment is a stupid reaction because what is being picked out by screening are new and existing cases in a pandemic that has most likely blown itself away.

This has already happened in Africa. The pandemic has blown over and we did not even notice it. Our reaction to the pandemic is however what will be remembered..How we hysterically closed and locked the stable doors after the horses had already bolted.

THERE IS NO CURVE TO FLATTEN!

This is the reason why I repeat..lockdown in African countries in this pandemic is a stupid idea.

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Containment measures will only become useful once we have efficient surveillance systems to pick out new cases that signify the beginning of a pandemic.

What we should be doing now is concentrate at point 6 and 7.

We cannot pretend to be at any curve of increasing new cases. We will continue picking existing cases as we test more people.This pandemic blew over already. The lockdowns and preparedness of facilities for Covid-19 patients are a waste of our time and just a justification to spend money.

They already recovered or died of other diseases.

We should be doing extensive community testing to find out just how much the virus is part of our system, the impact it has had on our demographics, whether we have sufficient herd immunity or not and prepare ourselves for the next pandemic, not the same one but a different one. We cannot pretend to prepare for the next surge of this pandemic when we did not even notice the primary one 😂

We went over the curve many weeks, probably many months ago.

Those still waiting for people to drop dead with Coronaviruses in Africa will have to find other ways of killing us then get a post mortem diagnosis of Covid-19.

The virus is with us and we will live with it. In perpetuity. Do not stigmatize people living with it after testing positive.

Open up the country because we are not achieving anything more with curfews, lockdowns and social distancing at this phase of the pandemic. Creating a mountain out of a mole hill for a crisis that isn’t there.

Those politicians, self proclaimed political analysts and alarmists advising the president not to open schools and the country are misleading the president. We have other more important issues that are affecting our people that need to be attended to. He should lead like Magufuli and Nana Akufo-Addo.

Don’t talk to me about China, Italy, Spain, Germany, USA etc….

Talk to me about Africa, and this pandemic in Africa.

The cure or attempt at cure should not be worse than the disease.

Stay healthy. Observe good basic hygiene to stop the spread of infectious diseases.

The Writer is a senior surgeon and urologist.


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