__Be part of the solution.
My friends, you must pay attention (we have NOT been this way before) but do not panic. Instead, make a plan. Just about six weeks ago I wrote you here to alert you about the COVID-19 epidemic that had hit Wuhan, China. It’s now reached about 117 countries including around 18 nations across Africa. As of a few days ago, it’s been upgraded by the World Health Organization (WHO) from a global health emergency to a “pandemic” impacting most of the world.
China’s situation has improved greatly now, and they have even sent some teams overseas to help Italy, the second worst hit country. As entrepreneurs, leaders in your communities, parents, students, innovators, I want you each to do your part wherever you are.
Here’s a link to the latest WHO guidelines. Please share this post and information with everyone you know. It is up to you to ONLY share credible information.
On this link you’ll see there some posters (which can be shared) with factual information and also guidelines:
# Be safe.
# Be smart.
# Be kind.
# Be supportive.
# Be careful.
# Be alert.
# Be informed.
# Be prepared.
# Be part of the solution! (I added this one).
Here is the most basic advice from scientists and health experts: (Don’t rely on rumors. They are dangerous):
#1. Know the symptoms of COVID-19 and take them seriously. The main ones are: 1) shortness of breath, 2) cough, 3) fever, 4) deep tiredness.
#2. Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub. In many schools now they have the kids washing hands once an hour. (They suggest you can sing the song “Happy birthday” twice to yourself while washing, to know that about 20 seconds is up). Others say you can pray the Lord’s Prayer, which takes about 20 seconds… Take the time.
#3. Don’t shake hands (it’s a habit to break right now). Don’t touch your face. Cough/sneeze into your elbow. Don’t spit. This is all common sense for any illness. Tell others.
#4. The virus can live on some surfaces for several days. On stairs, don’t touch the railings, for instance. Clean your phone. Your pen. You get the idea.
#5. Avoid crowds. By now you have all seen, for instance, how many hugely popular sporting events have been put on hold from EPL to Formula One to the entire NBA season. This is to avoid virus transmission in crowds. (The droplets that happen when you sneeze and cough can fly a long way!) Now what are you going to do with all that time you spent watching sport? #EntrepreneurIt!
#6. If you think you might have COVID-19, don’t just rush to a crowded health clinic, call them first. Isolate yourself, including from your family, but be sure to inform them you are not well. Meanwhile, if you’re sick, don’t cough or breathe onto anyone. Be smart. Remember: there is no cure yet for this new virus, but most people recover with proper treatment, so you must take it very seriously.
#7. Experts say you can be infected by COVID-19 but still not have any symptoms for up to about 14 days. During this time, you can infect others and not know it. This is one reason why it’s best to avoid crowds and unnecessary travel right now. #BeCareful.
You can read the rest of the guidelines on the link I gave you. Above all, remember: being careful, smart, and prepared, does NOT mean being cruel to the sick or people you think might have COVID-19. No!
__Open your hearts. We are all in this together. The whole world.
Keep a safe “social distance” from others during this dangerous pandemic, but still be kind. Next moment that sick person could be you… “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
As entrepreneurs, you are problem solvers. Think of vulnerable people in your communities like the elderly or frail who seem to be experiencing the worst symptoms of this virus across the world. Are there safe and hygienic ways, for example, you can help them get food delivered so they can avoid shopping in crowded markets? Other ideas?
You know one of my mantras: An entrepreneur doesn’t complain about problems, he or she helps solve them.
What else can YOU do in your family, school, place of work, community, nation at this time of global health crisis? If you are a policymaker, the time is now (at the latest) to make informed but possibly difficult decisions to protect our citizens across Africa, based on best practices so far from other countries fighting the pandemic. (Everyone is having to learn very fast because we have not been this way before).
“When something bad happens, you have three choices: you can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you”. (Source unknown).
To be continued. . .
Image credit: Lovemore Nyatsine, CEO, Clean City. We are doing our part in Zimbabwe. Please keep in mind that regular surgical masks do NOT prevent you from getting COVID-19 though they may help a bit. Only certain masks (such as the “N95” mask, in this photo) are seen as highly reliable especially for health professionals. Unfortunately, these N95 type masks are in short supply globally now. (N95s are tighter fitting than surgical masks, without gaps on each side).
If you are sick (with any type of illness), a regular surgical mask will, to a certain extent, help prevent YOU from spreading germs by coughing or sneezing. It also helps you not to touch your face (especially not your eyes, nose or mouth). This is very important as the COVID virus heads straight to your lungs where it can turn into pneumonia. Wash your hands before and after putting a mask on if you decide to wear one. Don’t re-use it! If in doubt, self-quarantine (isolate yourself) and call a medical expert.
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.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa