Many folk here in Britain are already complaining bitterly about the current lockdown and the problems it causes. Even though I am not at all sure that lockdown is the best way to tackle the coronabug, I accept that Bunter Johnson and his team of ‘experts’ are doing what they feel is correct.
I have spent the last few days trawling through what has been and is being written about this pandemic and how to tackle it but stories coming out of my own country, Zimbabwe and the rest of Southern Africa really tear at my heart strings.
We are constantly advised that frequent and thorough hand-washing with soap and water is one of the most basic weapons against the coronavirus but in Harare alone, one million people are without running water.
Last Sunday, a crowd of more than fifty people gathered at the community borehole in Kuwadzana 3, a high-density suburb west of Harare. They needed water and social distancing was far from their minds.
“We have not had water for three days,” said Nozipho Mpambawashe, a twenty-five year old mother of one who added that the water supply has been erratic for the past two weeks
“We are worried because we don’t have a reliable water supply. Even with a lockdown, I will still need water for cleaning, washing, cooking and drinking,” she said.
Frequent hand washing will be far from her mind or the minds of the people collecting water with her.
In the safe environment of my Cotswold retreat, I have peered with a feeling of desperate foreboding at pictures of big crowds desperately trying to buy maize meal in Harare and Bulawayo. No chance for social distancing, no sign of masks, just a massive squash of people trying to get food for their families – people who have to choose between hunger and an invisible virus. Almost five hundred people have been arrested this week for being on the streets in breach of the government lockdown. They were crammed into police lorries and taken away but in the same week one thousand six hundred and eighty prisoners were released because prisons are overcrowded and congested. Where is the logic in that I wonder?
In the early hours of the morning on day five of the Zimbabwe lockdown, the police raided Sakubva market in Mutare and confiscated three tons of fresh vegetables which were later set alight. Burning food when the country is in lockdown, people are desperate for food and over half the population is dependent on International Food Aid to survive, is very hard to understand.
With incidents like this taking place in my own country, I despair for the people if this coronabug establishes itself there as it seems almost inevitable that it will.
Thus when I hear people complaining about the situation here or read about idiots like Piers Morgan ranting on television about government inefficiency in controlling things, my blood pressure tends to rise sharply. It seems to be those who are most comfortable that are making the most noise.
Mind you, even after all my reading on the subject, I have huge misgivings about this pandemic. We know that the epicentre of the outbreak was Wusan in China. Most of the Western world then reacted by following ‘scientific’ data originally supplied by China and propagated by the World Health Organisation.
Yet none of it makes sense.
How is it that five hundred miles West of Wusan, lies the city of Shanghai, with a population of twenty-seven million people, which has to date reported only three hundred and thirty-nine cases with three hundred and twenty seven of them recovering? Similarly some thousand miles to the North of Wusan lies Beijing, with a population of twenty-one million people, which to date reports four hundred and sixteen cases with three hundred and ninety-four getting better.
How can this be when cities around the world have thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths? London is five and a half thousand miles from Wusan, New York seven and a half thousand, Spain over six thousand and Italy and Paris both about five and a half thousand. Yet all these places are struggling to cope with thousands of cases.
Surely it cannot be that the western world’s medical preparedness and scientific abilities are less competent than the Chinese? Or is it that our Western governments are just more inept than those of the East?
And of course there are the figures. Worldwide, from 1st January to 21st March 2020, seventeen million people died. Of those, eleven thousand, one hundred and seventy-seven deaths were attributed to Covid-19. In China, during the same period, two and a half million people died and only three thousand three hundred from the virus. Also bear in mind, we may never know if this tiny percentage of global deaths, was actually due to the virus itself or if people, who were dying anyway, simply died with the virus. What we do know for certain although the whittering media don’t tell us this, is that most of those who have died have been old, infirm and ailing, and/or, suffering from debilitating immunodeficiency ailments. This is regrettable of course, but it seems that very few healthy people have anything to fear from the coronabug.
Writing in The Spectator, Dr. John Lee, a retired pathologist put it this way, ‘We have yet to see any statistical evidence for excess deaths in any part of the world. In Britain, it appears that in the first week of March this year, almost exactly the same number of people died as in the same period last year.’ Dr. Lee then quotes figures from the US Centre for Disease Control which show that since September, flu has infected thirty-eight million Americans, hospitalised just under four hundred thousand and killed twenty-three thousand. This does not cause public alarm because flu is familiar.
The catastrophic danger peddled by much of the media is increasingly being exposed as statistical manipulation but regrettably, too slowly. In some countries with high mortality rates, we are now told they only count those who are hospitalised as Corona cases. This conveniently ignores many who have the virus but much less severe symptoms. This generates headline mortality rates that have little statistical validity but terrify people.
With social media and the news outlets misleading the world, it would be nice if we could look to the World Health Organisation for reassurance and guidance based on the facts, but alas, that is not the case.
It is now clear that the WHO-Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus, who appears to have limited medical training owes his appointment to China. Not surprising then that he colluded with the Chinese health authorities early on in the crisis by peddling the original falsehood that there was no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus. The story then was that it was only being transmitted between animals and this delayed the raising of the alarm. This was a blatant lie and he knew it, but he was happy to do the bidding of his benefactor.
Tedros, by the way, is the same bloke who picked Robert Mugabe who devoted his life to ruining the lives of millions to line his own pockets, to be the WHO’s roaming Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations. Now half the population of Zimbabwe is reliant on outside assistance for food thanks to the late president’s land-seizures. Just what Mr. Ghebreyesus knew about Mugabe and saving peoples’ lives that we don’t, I really cannot imagine, but to have this man serving as the world’s Surgeon General, tells me we’re listening to someone who cannot be trusted to tell the time of day. Thanks, in no small part to him, we are faced with a situation which I suspect is unprecedented in history, in war or peace, where governments have stopped their people going to work by executive decree.
Going back to Southern Africa, South Africa itself has come to a standstill, there is widespread panic and fear of dying stalks the land. In South Africa, roughly half a million people die each year of various causes. If we assume that the virus has been in the country since the beginning of the year, then approximately one hundred and twenty-five thousand people have died this year of other causes. Out of this total we are told that five have died from the virus.
With the South African economy now in freefall, it appears there is very little hope of a better life for the vast majority of the citizenry and everyone is destined to be poorer. Because this is Africa and not Europe or the US, the knock-on effects of a real depression are certain to be far more severe. While richer countries have greater resources to cushion the fall as people lose their incomes, this is not the case in most of Africa and with most African governments effectively bankrupt, the future for the continent looks pretty bleak.
Posturing politicians tell us that this is not about money but human lives but few of them are looking at the reality for those on the lower end of the income scale. It is bad enough here in Britain but in Africa with millions of penniless people cooped up in shacks in squalid conditions without an income, mass starvation seems almost inevitable. This will almost certainly lead to civil unrest, violence and more deaths than would occur with the coronabug.
Yes of course this virus is alarming and a danger to humanity, but so are many other things and I find it difficult to accept that the Corona contagion is more lethal than the response to it. And as I have said before, I believe that much of the blame for the misery ahead lies with the media and their enjoyment in imparting and embellishing bad news.