#OneFightAgainstCorona (Part 7)

#OneFightAgainstCorona (Part 7)

__A simple formula for fighting the virus.

We all have to go back to work, if we still have a job, otherwise our families will starve, and our already frail economies will collapse. So how do we stop the rapid spread of the disease, other than by lockdowns? For me, to reduce the frequency, duration and necessity of lockdowns, the answer is and has always been…

I-Inform; T-Test; Trace contacts; I-Isolate; T-Treatment. #ITTIT!

Let’s look at each one:

1. #ITTIT! – Inform

We need to continually @Inform everyone about the virus, and how easily it spreads. We must also @Inform the most vulnerable groups who face the greatest danger from this disease. There are a lot of people who believe that the lifting or easing of lockdowns means the danger has gone away. It has not! Until such time as the world finds a cure and/or a vaccine, the danger persists.

Remember: accurate information is critical, given the persistent misinformation that goes on, especially through Social Media platforms!

2. #ITTIT! -Testing

Ideally, you need a test that detects the infection, as soon as someone comes into contact with the virus. The best we have at the moment is something called a “PCR test” (polymerase chain reaction). In an efficient system, it takes about five hours to get the result. In some less efficient systems, it takes up to several days which means the person could have infected others in those five hours or more.

The PCR test is also expensive, and could cost up to $20, if you don’t have the volume buying capacity. The kits are in terribly short supply, and no African country (except South Africa) has been able to secure sufficient volumes to be able to raise its testing game to the level required.

There is a less effective test known as the “Rapid Detection Test” (RDT). It can give you the result in just 15 minutes. Unfortunately, this test needs to be taken at least seven days from the time you are infected, which means you could have unknowingly infected a lot of people during that time.

While RDT tests are plentiful, some of them are very “dodgy”… They don’t work very well, so don’t rush to accept one, if you don’t know where it came from! They are also much cheaper. I have bought some for as little as $6.

So, what do we do? Remember my maxim: “Don’t make perfect the enemy of good”…

The answer is simple: Why not buy RDT test kits in millions, and test as many people as possible? Rwanda, for instance, is doing about a 1,000 tests a day (the best after SA and Senegal). This is brilliant. I have urged them to go to 10,000 per day, and given their leadership, it is in sight.

The only way a country can expand testing is to build a broad #TestingAlliance, which includes the private sector, NGOs, business, and faith organizations. As I have said before, we need to demystify #Testing for COVID-19.

__Yes, COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease but that does not mean a private doctor who has a clinic cannot test for it. As long as there’s a water-tight process for collecting results, quickly, and to authenticate the test kits used, it should be quite simple to do.

(My team at Sasai Global will next week release a free mobile App which helps governments and citizens to manage mass testing. It is called the Sasai Status Report. I will talk about it again).

3. #ITTIT! – Trace contacts

The purpose of #Testing is to find those people who have the infection, and are spreading it to others near them, usually without even knowing that they have it.

Once you identify people who have tested positive for COVID-19, they must be isolated in a safe place from others, until the virus is out of their system.

As soon as someone tests positive for the virus, the health authorities will want to sit them down and learn about their #Contacts to help them, their families and others in their community stay safe. They will ask things like:

__Where have you been recently where you might have been exposed to the virus? Who have you been in close contact with? That is the first step in contact #Tracing.

If possible, you then want to find those other people they were in proximity with, and then help them, too, by testing them. They may be asked to go into immediate self isolation. With this pandemic, hard things are really hard.

Rwanda again provides the best example that I have heard about. They have built a National Tracing Center where 600 trained young people are calling people after they are identified.

This is phenomenal, and it is not difficult to duplicate. Actually, if a government partners with its mobile operators who have huge 24-hour call centers, the Rwanda system can be duplicated in just one week! Talk to Econet, MTN, Glo, Vodacom, Orange to help with #Tracing! They also have a lot of other cool tech tricks they can deploy for this which they use when tracking a stolen phone!

4. #ITTIT! – Isolation

Successful #Testing and #Tracing, must lead to finding people who must be isolated, and put into a safe and healthy “personal lockdown”.

A person who is infected is not a criminal, and must not be treated as such! They are citizens who must be treated with compassion, kindness and support, as they face a potentially life threatening disease.

One sad reality in Africa is the fact that 56% of our populations live in what are often referred to as slums, or informal settlements. Even those who live in proper housing are crowded and often have lodgers, or share with other families.

In this situation, a single infected person could mean that 10 family members are also infected. In a major breakout (which sadly may still happen in some countries), how we deal with those who are infected and suffering at home is going to test our compassion as a society.

I have urged governments to consider working with religious organizations and NGOs to offer the option (it has to be voluntary to work), of self-isolating in groups at churches, mosques, community centers, schools, supported by faith leaders, NGOs, etc.

In Zimbabwe, our family foundation has partnered with church leaders to set up 20 such centers in case there is a major outbreak.

5. #ITTIT! – Treatment

COVID-19 has no known treatment yet. Most people who get it will recover, even though it may be extremely painful and uncomfortable.

Even in the most (economically) developed countries like Britain and the Italy, which were hit hard by COVID-19, most people were nursed back to health from home. In Africa, where we have very few hospital beds, we need to be focusing our energy on how we provide #home-based care:

__Providing clean, dry shelter, with blankets, and hot nutritious meals, including being prepared to rush to someone’s home with oxygen bottles to help breathing, is more important than only chasing after ventilators. We must be practical in these things.

I’m all for training thousands of community health workers, who are volunteers and highly motivated. This is how we dealt with Ebola. South Africa and Rwanda have already unleashed thousands of community health workers!

Hospitals? That is obvious, so what more can I say?

Here is how you can help, as a member of this platform: Promote #ITTIT!

Let’s do hashtags, t-shirts, Instagram, WhatsApp messaging…

Be #PartOfTheSolution.

Get everyone to understand that they must be involved in #ITTIT!

Thank you.

To be continued. . .

Author:Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.

8 Replies to “#OneFightAgainstCorona (Part 7)”

  1. Afterthought 1.

    “This is a moment all of us will remember for the rest of our lives. It is time for us to live up to it”. Michelle Bachelet, UN Commissioner for Human Rights

  2. Afterthought 2.

    International Nurse’s Day was celebrated a few days ago on 12 May. A #ShoutOut to nurses, doctors and health workers all across Africa and the world, fighting on the frontlines to provide treatment and help to heal so many hundreds of thousands of people suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic so far. We thank you for your service, heart and skillful dedication.

    “Nurses are community-builders, mentors, counsellors and educators who provide psychosocial support, beyond the medical domain, to the communities in which they are based and are at the forefront of our fight against many social ills”. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa


  3. #Pause:

    If you want to see what is going on with Covid-19 infections on a real time daily basis, including how many people are sick, and those that have died:
    There is a very powerful in-app on Sasai Explore, called Covid Stats. Open it and tap the map on any country and see what happens.
    I will speak to the first twenty people who make a comment that shows me they saw it!

  4. #Update on Sasai Health Status Report: SHSR!

    This has the potential to be one of the most important tools we have ever developed:


    It gives users the freedom to work and meet with others in a Post Covid world!

    We have just submitted it to the App stores for approval. Hopefully we will have it back before Friday.

    It will be an icon on Sasai Explore.

  5. #What is in your hand?

    We have so many new members on the platform, that I hope you are helping them to visit some of my most important past messages.
    Do you remember this message:
    #”What is that in your hand?”

    It was a question from God to Moses.
    He did not say “nothing”. He pointed to his shepherd’s rod.

    Solving problems as a person of faith, begins with the willingness to offer whatever is in your hand.

    The moment there is a problem, I’m asked to solve, I ask myself:

    “What is in my hand?”

    You will by now have noticed that in fighting Corona virus, I’m using a lot of digital tools. SHSR is one of my big ones, but I’m also building a platform to help African governments access urgent medical supplies like Test Kits, and ventilators. It will blow your mind!

    Never say “I have nothing”.

    God used the rod in Moses’ hand to change the history of the world.

    So don’t turn up empty handed. That is not faith.

  6. Tammy Joshua

    My Big Boss. Have you scheduled a time for our Novel Call? will be glad to hear your voice and share in your wisdom… i’m thinking what to offer you as value during the discussion? lol

    My reply,
    The team will first advise all the people concerned, and do a test run to ensure that everyone is able to connect. Once that happens the call will be scheduled.
    Timing depends on my availability. Remember I’m a Special Envoy for the whole continent’s response.

  7. Banabasi Marambire writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa is it possible to also increase the number of participants to make group vedio calls of more people exceeding 20.

    We are currently using it for our online learning for our school. We are currently using voice calls and they are amazing.

    For primary education lessons, group video calls may be more effective than voice calls.

    We need to bring the normal classroom concept but done on line.

    My reply,
    It is currently very difficult to do, technically. Even our 20 is quite a breakthrough.
    We also had to divert our technical resources to things like Sasai Health Status Report, and the Medical Supply Center.
    We are having to do all these things with people who are working remotely.
    Perhaps later in the year we will return and look at it again.

  8. #Key reflection:

    Testing, Tracing, and Isolation,

    Will allow us to limit the number, frequency, and durations of Lockdowns.

    It also enables us to have surgical rather than blanket Lockdowns. For instance you might find that there is a cluster of infections in a particular part of the city, whilst others have no infections.
    In an ideal situation “lockdown” can be so surgical that you just focus on one house.

    It is still possible for Africa to use Testing, Tracing, and Isolation, as our main tool, because the reported infections are still very low. Once it is in the tens of thousands, it is no longer as useful.

    We must rush to get into mass testing, tracing, and isolation.

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