After being initially spared the scourge, Covid-19 is spreading fast among Zimbabweans thanks to government carelessness and lack of strategy that saw positive escapees fleeing from quarantine centres and the collapse of the country’s healthcare system. As of yesterday the country has 4649 cumulative cases and 104 deaths.
According to the World Health Organisation one reason why the virus is spreading so fast is because two in five people in the world are living in places where they live under water scarcity for at least one month of the year. That amounts to an astounding 3 billion people who don’t always have access to clean water. Sometimes these people don’t have access to water to wash at all.
So what has this to do with Covid-19?
Frequent and thorough hand washing are among the most effective measures in restricting the spread of the virus because the primary routes of transmission are droplets and direct contact, according to the World Health Organisation.Bloomberg
While handwashing has always been a matter of basic hygiene, now it is a matter of life and death. In Zimbabwe’s urban centres years of neglect and water purification chemicals has resulted in residents being forced to go without water for prolonged periods. As the WHO points out this is aiding the spread of the virus elsewhere and Zimbabwe is probably not an exception.
It’s not just the direct effects of water shortages either. There are indirect effects, such as the fact that most Zimbabweans rely on rain for most of their agricultural activities which has seen the country facing starvation after erratic droughts on multiple occasions. Urban water shortages also force people to congregate near community water wells and borehole violating social distancing restrictions.
A matter of soap
It’s not just water that is an issue, soap is expensive and beyond the reach of many. Washing hands with just water is ineffective. Sadly when the pandemic struck, it brought with it a high demand for soap and detergents. The cheapest soap is Sona in Zim shops, it is imported from South Africa and goes for about $80 ZWL, greenbar now goes for more than $110 ZWL while Geisha and Jade sell north of $100 ZWL in most neighbourhood shops.