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A medical practitioner administering COVID-19 vaccine. Photo Courtesy/ UNICEF KENYA/2021/LameckOrina

Fifth Estate

Diaz: Is the world free from Covid-19 pandemic?

The Covid-19 pandemic wretched havoc in most parts of the world, leading to detrimental consequences.

Its outbreak led to serious loss of lives. As of today September 2022, the virus had claimed over 6.6 million lives. The numbers usually vary by region, and with time, influenced by healthcare system quality, government response, testing volume, initial outbreak, population characteristics etc.

Different nations have put measures to curb the spread of the pandemic, such as restriction of movements, quarantine measures, vaccination and putting on of the face masks.

The pandemic led to a lot of challenges to the global travel industry, with restrictions and travel guidelines enforced in different economies. However, it is significant and encouraging that there is stabilization of the travel activities in different parts of the country.

In countries such as China, the travel activities were low in February. However, there has been consistent recovery in place. Entry restrictions for different international travels have also been place in some countries but have since been abolished. That means that the visitors are no longer required to document and present vaccination proof or negative Covid-19 test.

Moreover, there have been considerable decline in the reported cases of the virus, suggesting a low contraction rate of the novel virus. However, one of the fundamental questions we need to ask ourselves is; is the world free from Covid-19 pandemic, are we out of the hood yet? The answer to this question is subjective, depending on where one exists.

An individual who dwells in an area where numerous deaths have been experienced would probably disregard the notion and plead with the government to intensify measures to curb the spread of the virus, while an individual living in an area regarded as Covid-19 free regions would nod in agreement that we have finally fought the fight and won the battle.

However, in it is crucial to dig deep and analyze the probability of finally being free from the pandemic, because any relaxation on the containment measures would lead more spread to low risk regions.

While the world continues to fight the highly contagious virus, countries such as New Zealand have shown their potential to contain and defeat the deadly virus. Amid this, New Zealand together with other countries such as Vatican, Fiji, Tanzania, Montenegro, St Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea have provided a ray of hope that the crisis might improve in future. The countries have been declared as free from the virus so far and they have been successful in containing the Covid-19 pandemic spread.

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Despite the milestone attained, the Director General of WHO warned that we have not reached a completely free virus state. The roll out of therapies and vaccines has assisted in stemming out deaths as well as hospitalization. Even though the deaths from Covid-19 have reached their lowest rates currently, it is important to remain consistent in containing the virus and reap from the hard work towards preventing the spread of the virus.

Countries should take a hard look at their policies and effectively strengthen them for the Corona virus and the future viruses. There should also be a 100 percent vaccination of the high risk groups and to continue to test the virus. As such, with more than one million deaths in 2022 alone, the pandemic is an emergency globally and within several countries.

The global picture

The majority of countries across the world reported falling covid-19 infection numbers. Many countries have extended their overall reporting intervals, making reporting of the identified cases viable and easy. Several countries in the world adopted the vaccination, a means to increase immunity and prevent contraction or severe cases of Covid-19.

Through this, many countries are able to contain the virus because the newly reported cases are relatively low across the continents.

As of June 2022, the countries that have more than 50 percent of its population infected include Andorra, San Marino and Iceland. On the other hand, countries that have between 40 and 50 percent of infection rate of the population are Seychelles, Cyprus, Israel, Switzerland and Georgia. However, countries with less than 1 percent population infected are Algeria, Gambia, Haiti, Cambodia, China and Tanzania.

In general, the overall cases of Covid-19 cases have declined. Most countries have also relaxed their Covid-19 containment measures such as putting on of face masks, restricting movements and enforcing vaccination. Travelling is also easy across the globe, with fewer requirements on the testing of the virus before travelling.

There has been improvement on the overall health of people, with few people getting exposed to the virus. The number of deaths has also declined significantly. Trade, sports activities and tourism has improved with more people visiting their tourist destination. The virus is currently top of the issues that worry the world leaders based on the latest research. Therefore, the major way of handling the issues is through vaccination to prevent further spread, especially in high risk countries.

The Covid-19 situation in Africa

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With the population of more than one billion in Africa, the number of coronavirus across Africa has been found to be small compared to different continents. The World Health Organization estimates that about 8.7 million cases, with 75 percent of the cases experienced in Tunisia, Morocco and South Africa.

Fatalities have been low compared to other continent, with the WHO reporting a 2 percent of the overall cases in the world. The success of curbing the spread and intensity of the virus is not the full story. Most of the Africans are worse off than they were at the start of 2020.

The effect of the virus in Africa has majorly been an impact of secondary and tertiary effects. The current challenge in the continent is getting vaccines to countries that have low income and ascertaining that people get vaccinated.

However, as was the case with Ebola, concerning fears and myths, the lack of trust that several Africans have in their governments is justified on how people perceive initiatives such as vaccine drives. This is quite understandable given the political environments that many different people have grown up in. However, it is a challenge to clear for preventing the spread of the Covid-19 in African continent.

Kenya not in a bad shape

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a defining global health crisis of our time as well as the greatest challenge the world has faced since World War II. Since its outbreak in Asia, the virus has spread in almost all continents. Cases emerged in Asia, Europe, America and Africa.

Kenya has not been exempted from the challenges posed by the virus. Despite the severe case experienced before, the current corona case in Kenya points to a scenario that has been contained. The reported cases of Covid-19 have been low.

The government has also relaxed the containment measures such as wearing masks in public. Putting on of masks in outdoor places is deemed optional. However, an individual is required to put on the masks when in confined or closed spaces like aircraft, offices, markets, churches and supermarkets. All in order meetings have also been given a go ahead and they can continue at full capacity if the participants are fully vaccinated.

The Kenyan government has approved the vaccine in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. The move is aimed at preventing contracting the contagious disease and deaths. The vaccines are available for the Kenyan citizens, with the vaccines such as Moderna, Oxford, Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer available. The Kenyan government has not put travel restrictions. Thus, citizens across the world are permitted to enter as long as they are above the age of 12.

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Those entering must show proof of negative PCR test conducted not less than 72 hours before departure.

The overall reported Covid-19 cases in the world has reduced. There are few cases compared to the time of its outbreak in Asia. The number of deaths has also declined significantly, and as such, many economies have opted to relax Covid-19 containment measures.

This is good news because the world economies can trade seamlessly, and other economic activities that spur economic growth have resumed. The reduction in the Covid-19 cases is therefore an achievement for most world economies. If the current state is anything to go by, then soon, normalcy will return and there will be total abolition of measures to curb the virus, including vaccination.

Chris Diaz
Business Leader and Brand Africa Trustee
Twitter: @DiazchrisAfrica

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