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Coronavirus Local

A future without Covid-19: Fact or Fiction?

The novel coronavirus has swept across the world with millions of people infected and hundreds and thousands of people dead.

Though over 16 million people have fully recovered from the deadly virus, it seems that with every single recovery one hundred more cases are registered as figures continuously soar.

The novel coronavirus was first discovered in late December 2019 in the Chinese City of Wuhan.

It is presumed that China had started registering cases way before it reported the matter to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

By January 2020, it had spread to other countries and left scientists perplexed as the new flu-like infection quickly left a deadly trail.

About two months later, the first few cases on the African soil were recorded, with Egypt and South Africa becoming the worst hit on the continent.

Following this development, mass restrictions were introduced with the aim of curbing further spread of the infection.

This included restrictions on air and land travel, mass gatherings and millions of people were forced into months-long lockdowns.

Most governments relied on keeping the masses apart as it had been proven as one of the best ways to mitigate the epidemic which the WHO later declared a global pandemic.

The thought of a world without restrictions on how we interact with one another and travel can now only be conceived in our imaginations.

But if we could look into the future, would everything be as it had been before the pandemic?

For many, it may seem like years ago when we were all able to fully interact with one other without the fear of contracting a contagious disease.

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Covid-19 has not only drastically changed the way we interact, but also how we do business, learn and worship.

It is a fact that this is not the first pandemic to affect human kind as pandemics can be traced back to Biblical times.

Despite this, the coronavirus has proven to be the most difficult to contain and prevent as humans are social beings and human to human contact can at times occur impulsively.

Explaining from a Biblical perspective, founder of World Alive Ministries believes the now is the time for people to turn to God and ask for forgiveness.

“With reference to second Chronicles there is a prayer that people make, there was a time that God requested people to hide themselves until the affliction is over.

This should therefore not be taken lightly because what is happening is in tandem with the scripture,” Kawalala says.

Before looking at a future without the pandemic, the billion Kwacha question is, will it ever come to an end?

When I posed this question to Epidemic Specialist Titus Divala, he disclosed that earlier research had indicated that the virus would be eradicated in five to six months has since been dismissed.

Divala says, “Chances are high that this virus may never end, it may only be contained and if a vaccine is not found soon, we might need to get used to the life and we are living now”.

Divala (L) at a press briefing in Blantyre.
Picture by Florence Mwale

From a psychological point of view, Eric Umar hints that even after getting used to being socially distanced, we will still be able to return to our normal way of socializing once restrictions have been lifted.

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Umar believes that the though it will be tough, life and behaviour towards one another may not necessarily change as much.

While getting back to normalcy will be easier for some, but for Malawi’s economy it is estimated that it will take several months for it to get back on track.

With thousands of jobs lost in various sectors, it is evident that the Lazarus Chakwera administration has a tough task ahead of it.

The Dean of Commerce at the Polytechnic Betchani Tchereni suggests that the government first looks into the areas which have been hit the most.

On a scale of one to three, Tchereni positions the tourism sector at the top with the finance and manufacturing sector being placed second and third respectively.

In the tourism industry alone, over 40, 000 jobs have been lost.

“We have over depended international tourists without realizing that locals can also demand the very same services. I would advise players in the sector to start marketing it in a way that  local as well,” Betchani says.

According to Betchani, with such a pandemic, tourism players should learn to diversify and get back on track while offering affordable prices and attractive services for the local Malawian.

Once the status quo attained and working from home is no longer the first option for a majority of the citizenry, normalcy will have to return even in the workplaces.

Secretary General of the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions Denis Kalekeni urges employers to put in place strict measures that will ensure job security and protect employees from the virus

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He further urges for employees to resume to their old schedules of doing business because chances are high that the virus will be around for a longer period than expected.

Concurring with Kalekeni is Executive Director of the Civil Society Education Coalition Benedicto Kondowe.

Kondowe emphasizes on the need to explore on options to allow schooling to resume amidst the pandemic.

“This pandemic might be around for the next five years, if we do no act now, we are going to have a higher illiteracy rate that will negatively affect Malawi’s development.

A standard 8 pupil from Mponda Primary in Zomba washes her hands before entering class.
Picture by: Florence Mwale

We therefore need to explore possibilities of implementing measures that will ensure that learning is not disturbed in schools.”

With proper management by the government and adherence of the preventive measures, a future without the coronavirus is closer that we can imagine.

So far, the numbers of people that have recovered is continuing to surpass the number of active cases.

From what has been gathered, it is a fact that the coronavirus may never end.

All that is left on our part is to conform and work on flattening our curve.

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