COSince February 2020, almost five hundred thousand persons have died in the United States as a result of infection with the SARS Coronavirus-2. Imagine, the entire population of Grenada would have been obliterated four times! This highly contagious and deadly virus, was identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019, riveted like flames in bramble on a windy day. Within a few weeks the World Health Organisation had declared a pandemic. This simply put, indicates “epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of people.”
The definition speaks for itself. Social media and global access to information made everyone a living witness to real-time unfolding of events and alarming statistics linked to the virus in its unrelenting gallop around the globe. We have seen devastating illness and death among the elderly in China and Lombardi in the early days. Spain become an overwhelmed, helpless state as its people fell like flies to the disease.
Meanwhile, the shocking, passive attitudes of the American political leadership where the so called “best healthcare system in the world” failed miserably to address the urgent need for direction and care of the people, for one reason or another; but more so, we all experienced the loss of family as well as isolation from them. No longer could we mourn the loss of loved ones, nor offer support to the bereaved; shut-ins remained shut-in as outside visits were prohibited; poor families suffered hunger and severe need because work was inaccessible; our beloved children lost the joy of growing with their friends and teachers; and fear reigned supreme as naïve information was tainted and contaminated by selfish and irresponsible newsmongers, and by conspiracy theorists.
Overall, this pandemic has changed the way we communicate, earn, learn and teach. And it has made us all technology dependent, even kicking and screaming, because our lives inevitably depend on it. We ask, when will it go away? The truth is that each one of us is called to make a conscious decision to prevent the disease from affecting our personal lives, that of our families and our communities at large.
Grenada has, fortunately, experienced a low rate of disease compared to our neighbours. This is largely due to the strict, yet valuable measures taken as early as February 2020, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a pandemic. The Ministry of Health then asked that we identify our sick and shut-ins, seniors and people with chronic disease and every person who may have an immune-compromised body to ensure that they were safely isolated from the potential to be infected by this unknown, deadly virus. As knowledge increased, the health authority shared and tried to guide the population. The motive remains not only to prevent infection and spread of this new disease, but to preserve life and well-being of everyone in our tri-island state.
To date, the health authorities have recommended several practices aimed at minimizing the presence and effects of the virus.
• Closing our ports. This virus is known to originate far from our shores and was introduced only by people coming into our islands. Controlling our borders and testing travellers have aided in identifying infected people, then isolating them to prevent community spread of coronavirus.
• Sanitary practices: Regular hand washing using soap and water, or sanitizing with 70% alcohol solution have been proven to destroy the fatty covering of the virus preventing it from penetrating the cells of the host.
• Wearing facial masks: Complete covering of the nostrils and mouth prevents the transfer of the virus from the respiratory tract of infected people, or aerosols in the atmosphere, to healthy people.
• Keeping safe physical distance: this prevents exchange of the virus as we touch hands or speak, cough, sing, shout and laugh in each other’s presence.
• Lockdown and curfews: limit the time and distance over which people may establish and maintain physical contact with each other.
There are two fundamental facts we must all take into consideration. First, all viruses must penetrate into the cells of a living host to survive and multiply; and this coronavirus uses the respiratory tract to enter into our bodies.
Taking Individual Responsibility to Prevent COVID-19
Recently there has been much talk of a deadlier strain of the virus called the British Variant of SARS Cov-2. It is capable of both spreading faster and causing more serious disease and a greater chance of dying. Additionally, another strain has been identified in Brazil where over 225,000 have died from the disease. Each person is therefore called to double his/her efforts and responsibility for self-protection. The public health measures recommended by the government have been effective and should be observed, despite the mild discomfort.
Taking Care of General Health
Every day, we are reminded that having a healthy immune system has been proven to offer significant protection from the coronavirus infection. Healthy diets of fresh fruits and vegetables, daily exercise, Vitamins C and D, minerals like Zinc and Magnesium, exposure to sunshine and fresh air all help to boost our immune or defense system. However, we must also cease the use of tobacco and alcohol and limit the fats, salt and sugar in our foods to prevent and control chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes and especially high blood pressure which puts us at the highest risk of dying if we should contract COVID 19.
The pediatricians in the United States claim that “Vaccines make adults”. While many of us may want to argue against this, maybe no one will recall any child dying from infectious diseases like measles, meningitis or pneumonia or their complications in the last 40 years. Who remembers yellow fever or small pox? Vaccines are responsible for their disappearance from the melieu of diseases that affect our people today.
Unlike during pandemics past, global communications and access to information permit us to hear the current arguments for or against the COVID 19 vaccines, in real time. We must therefore learn about the truths, the reasoning, the efficacy, the benefits and the challenges of the proposed vaccines because they promise to deliver yet another level of prevention once they are safe, and, more so, available to all. The Global Alliance Vaccine Initiative has laid out some facts about this vaccine that we should all learn.
Health care professions should be prepared to share information and clear doubts.
Knowledge will give us the power to beat this pandemic and regain our lives and freedoms.