#Urgent pause: : Wash your hands, open your hearts

#Urgent pause: : Wash your hands, open your hearts

__Prepare, put in place safeguards, but don’t panic.

I think most of you know that a month or so ago, a deadly epidemic broke out in Wuhan, China that’s now infected people across about 25 countries so far. I am not going to cite statistics of how many people have died or been confirmed as infected by the “Novel Coronanvirus” in the past month. These numbers seem to be changing rapidly. No cases have been confirmed in Africa yet, to my knowledge, but the Global Health Emergency is deeply impacting the continent and the whole world.

People are suffering, flights are being cancelled, travelers are being stranded, ex-pat workers are being sent back home from Wuhan (Hubei Province). Families and cities are being isolated, businesses are being closed temporarily, health workers are being inundated and in many places lack necessary protective supplies. (There is no known vaccine yet but teams are working round the clock to develop one).

So what can WE do to help? This is a time for nations and people to work together, not in isolation, as we learned when we first started fighting the Ebola epidemic in 2014 and global agencies have been doing in the DRC since mid-2018.

Today, let’s start with what YOU can do, the basics, and what you shouldn’t do. Most of these health guidelines apply at all times to keep you and your family, school and place of business healthy.

First of all, what are the symptoms of what they call the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

At first, symptoms are not very different from the flu or common cold. They include:

Fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath/breathing difficulties. This can turn into bronchitis, severe pneumonia and/or liver or kidney failure, then death. Those particularly at risk seem to be people with weak immune systems, cardiopulmonary disease, infants and older adults.

How do you help stop the spread of this disease and many others? This is IMPORTANT:

# It is believed that from a few days after you are exposed to maybe 14 days later, (the “incubation period”) you can have been infected by the Coronavirus and not know it. This means before you start showing symptoms you can be spreading the virus without knowing it.

__Be smart. Have you traveled where there has been an outbreak of the Coronavirus? Then be vigilant!

# Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others. (This applies for any kind of flu or illness, by the way).

# Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

# If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or a fixed elbow, not your hands. (You should do this in any case, whatever the situation!) Discard the tissue in a closed bin. Do not just throw it on the ground! Then wash your hands.

# Avoid close contact with anyone with a fever or a cough.

# Avoid contact with sick animals.

# Do NOT touch your face, which passes germs to your nose, mouth and/or eyes!

# If you suspect you might be infected with the Coronavirus, (you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.

# Avoided unnecessary travel and do NOT travel publicly while you think you might be infected… not in a taxi, bus, train, plane, an Uber or any vehicle with other passengers! And don’t go to work or school. Avoid crowded places in general.

# If you choose to wear a face mask, be sure to cover mouth and nose, then avoid touching mask once it’s on. Immediately discard single-use masks after each use and wash hands after removing mask.

# When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of Coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.

# Eat only well-cooked food. Eating raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

# Before you go to a health care worker, doctor or emergency room, try to CALL AHEAD and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms. Don’t just show up at the hospital as this could possibly infect others.

You all know that I am not a health professional. It is up to you to do your own research and protect yourselves. To help this process, I am going to share online links to organizations known for their global health professionals and expertise. The advice I shared here came from these sites. Please share!

Remember: This is a time to open your heart, stay alert, and be smart.

This Global Health Emergency is a global challenge but we have to tackle it locally. My heart goes out to everyone in China and across the world who are impacted. Let’s do what we can where we are.

# World Health Organization: Advice for Public (share widely)


# US Center for Disease Control (USA)


# European Center for Disease Control: Frequently asked questions


# Australian Government Department of Health


Entrepreneurs amongst you, this is a real problem for you to reflect upon. What can you do? To start with, you can help educate people. The WHO link I gave you above and below has some hand-outs you can print and/or share with people online. That’s just one idea.


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.

22 Replies to “#Urgent pause: : Wash your hands, open your hearts”

  1. #Take Action Now!

    Entrepreneurs don’t sit and watch crisis; they always try to do something!

    #1. Take steps to protect yourself, your family, and employees starting today:

    /Curtail unnecessary trips, particularly outside the country.
    / Avoid shaking hands with people.
    [they will understand, because it is good for them too!]
    / Talk about it and share information.
    /Distribute soap.

    #2. Protect your customers:
    As you come into contact with your customers, share with them what you know.
    Don’t spread false rumors.
    Distribute soap bars,

    #3. Get involved in community and civic defense initiatives being taken by your government.
    Volunteer. Make yourself available.
    Commit time and money [however little]!

  2. Shedrach Ebri writes,

    Thank you Sir for sharing your concerns.
    But, what are professionals in Africa doing in terms of vaccines development. This might just be our chance if we take it… but we always sit and wait for a saviour.

    My reply,
    Let me make two points:

    #1. Vaccines are extremely complicated and costly to develop. Even with the best resourced pharmaceutical companies, it is expected to take at least a year. The world’s best scientists, including Africans, are scrambling right now to come up with a vaccine. The head of the World Health Organization is himself an African and very competent.

    #2. In your comment, you follow a common approach we take in Africa:
    “Why doesn’t someone do something?”
    This approach means we don’t have to do anything ourselves.
    The question that galvanizes action is always this:
    “What can I do to help?”

    The crisis is on our doorstep, and if this becomes a full scale Pandemic the loss of life could be be very high. Now is the time to be informed, and to take actions that could save lives!

  3. #Something Bill Gates told me:

    During the Ebola Crisis, when I was appointed by the AU Chairperson [Dr Nkosazana Zuma] to mobilize resources for an African response; I travelled all over the world, and even met President Obama, at the White House.
    One person who was super engaged was Bill Gates. I will never forget what he told me at the time:
    “Ebola is passed on through blood and body fluids; so its easier to contain. The next Pandemic could be airborne, and it will be much harder to contain.”

    Corona Virus is an airborne virus. We have to take it VERY, VERY seriously. Containing it in China is first prize, and they are doing everything humanly possible. But we have to prepare for its spread. It has already reach nearly 30 countries.

    Let’s not perish for lack of knowledge!

    There is something each one of us can do to help, and to prepare our own countries.

  4. #In a crisis, I like practical people, and avoid the philosophers, and armchair critics, who can always find someone else to blame.
    I’m glad the people on this platform are known for being practical, because they are Entrepreneurs!

  5. Aliko B Tabengwa writes,

    Am actually in Wuhan as we speak ,always indoors the city is temporarily shut .No much activity at all .

    My reply,
    You are in my prayers!
    Last night I actually prayed for all the peoples of China, as well as Africans living in the country.
    I will “pray without ceasing” until the virus is defeated and you are able once again to travel safely.
    We love you Aliko. Don’t be afraid or anxious about the situation.

  6. Ayasi Ceaser writes,

    Thanks alot dr strive masyiwa for the guidelines I am currently a student in China hunan province xiangtancity and we were asked by our university authorities not to step a foot outside always indoors morning to morning I hope global community doctors get together and contain the corona virus as for my brothers and sisters in Africa please be vigilant wash ur hands do as chief has listed because the virus is so deadly

    My reply,
    Dear Ayasi, please take care of yourself. Do not be afraid.
    Many on this platform are praying for you, and all our friends there in China.
    Seeing your and that of others reminds us that we have family in China.
    Keep us posted on developments.

  7. #Chinese Businesses are on the frontline of fighting the Corona Virus:

    Last week I got an email from the office of my friend Jack Ma of Alibaba asking to share information on my experience in fighting the Ebola virus.
    I was amazed by all the things Jack Ma and others in China are doing!

    Almost every single Chinese business [big and small] is doing something to fight the virus.

    Interesting DiDi [China’s version of Vaya] is providing FREE transport for Nurses and doctors …sound familiar?!
    Vaya is currently offering FREE transport to Zimbabwe’s nurses and doctors. WE HAVE DONE THIS FOR MORE THAN 6 MONTHS!

    I just read an article in a Chinese paper about initiatives by small businesses right across China. They are doing everything possible to get involved. IN A CRISIS IT IS A DISGRACE NOT TO GET INVOLVED.

    Now here is the lesson for us in Africa:

    #1. China is the second most powerful country in the world, and has resources and capability to boot. It’s military built a 1000 bed hospital from scratch to finish in 10 days!
    And YET, their businesses still want to get involved. In Africa during crises many of us just like to watch and criticize, and become armchair TWITTER foremen!
    We will never overcome any crisis whether health or economic by just watching from the sidelines.
    It is also important for our policy makers not to be arrogant in a crisis, and engage others to join and offer solutions:
    If your house is burning, and a neighbor comes with a bucket of water, you do not question their motive, simply because you quarreled with them in the past. That is silly!
    This Corona Virus is SERIOUS, VERY SERIOUS!
    We need everyone to get involved in preparations.

  8. Emmanuel Popoola writes,

    Breaking news.
    I read that cocaine kills coronavirus…. maybe that is the breakthrough we have been expecting.

    My reply,
    Your approach to life has to change radically if you are not to end up in a disaster or just abject poverty!
    You cannot live on the basis of believing, and spreading every pathetic thing you hear!
    It’s up to you.

  9. #A Word of Wisdom:

    “ Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity,
    but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” [King Solomon]n

    “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity [or success]”

    Imagine if every entrepreneur made this into a Poster?

  10. #;Update on Vaccine for Corona Virus:

    On Monday I travelled to Los Angeles to meet a man many billionaires call a sage:
    Michael Milken is a billionaire who started a foundation called “Fast Cures” which looks at ways to bring medical breakthroughs quickly to patients.
    As I expected he was completely on top of everything being done to find a cure for Corona Virus. From him I was able to understand everything that is being done on a global level, including the collaborations between scientists, governments, and even billionaires like him, Bill Gates, Jack Ma and others.
    It is very impressive work.

    “Everything that can be done is being done” Michael said to me.
    “These things take time, but we will soon have a vaccine in the shortest time possible.”

    I did not expect him to say “next week or even next month”, because even I understand that would be difficult. Meanwhile we pray, and take actions to protect people, and slow down the spread of the virus, particularly from China to poorer countries where the ability to respond will be limited by resources.

    Each one of us, has a role to play. Start today, by buying some boxes of soap to distribute to schools.

  11. Wellmus Euler writes,

    Thank you for the update Dr Strive Masiyiwa, This free online course on the novel coronavirus focuses on the history, transmission, symptoms, possible treatment and potential prevention of the novel coronavirus. In response to the spread of this new coronavirus – Alison, as part of the international response has created a basic free course on what people need to know about the coronavirus, its background, how to best deal with the threat it poses to you, your family and community. This course is updated regularly and is currently being converted into different languages. https://alison.com/course/coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know

    My reply,
    You are a very practical person. The type of person I like to have around me in a crisis. Keep it up.
    I hope others will study this material.

  12. #Pause:

    Are you the type of person, I would like to have in the middle of a crisis?

    In life and business you will face many crises; some even life threatening.
    As an entrepreneur, I’m always looking out for the type of person I want to be with me during a crisis.

    In a crisis I want someone who can keep a cool head, and offer practical solutions that we can use immediately to address the problem. I don’t need someone who wants to analyze what happened, who is to blame, and what can we do next time!
    I need solutions based on our own resources and not those of someone else, including a government.

    Being a trained engineer, I always tell my staff:
    “Limit the number of variables don’t increase them, if you want to solve an equation.”
    Some people try to make a problem more complex before attempting to solve it.

  13. Austin Uzim writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa Yes Chief, you can count on me at any time. All you’ve taught me from four years ago I joined MFP till date was in preparation for both today and how to succeed as an entrepreneur.

    A leader is not successful unless his successors succeed. As a trained entrepreneur and humanist, I’m aware how important this request is and only genuine responders who put self behind and solution foward will win the war.

    On my core personal values is an acronym RIDER.

    Every entrepreneur should never overlook these five words and one cannot function without the other. The five gives you an organized system. That is what you Chied have taught me. And I’m hilsonf on this values.

    My reply,
    I know you are the type of person I can rely on in a crisis. That is why I have often directed my people to find you.
    I need more people like you. They are there, but I need them speak out more often.
    Remember this expression:
    “Your words locate you.”

  14. #Taking Action:

    If you have staff who deal with the public in your business, there are three things you can do Immediately to protect them and your customers:

    #1. Buy Face Mask and gloves.
    Tell them not to shake hands, even if it is customary to do so!
    At Econet we just did that today.

    #2. Provide clean water, and sanitizers for cleaning tops, and other surfaces. Make sure this is done by someone trained and protected at all times.

    #3. If you run a pharmacy, there may be people who are quietly trying to treat themselves at home to avoid quarantine; be on the lookout, because they endanger everyone else!

  15. #Well done Vaya Ambulance Team:

    As many of you know Vaya Ambulance is a platform that people to access ambulances like you would an “Uber or Vaya car”.
    In Zimbabwe, it was launched as a Vaya innovation last year.

    Today [Friday] the Vaya Ambulance team are holding a training drill for 78 Ambulance crews, on the Coronavirus.

    If there is a call out involving a potential Coronavirus, it’s important that Ambulance Crews are equipped to help and to protect themselves.

    I commend the Econet leadership team for planning this and other initiatives.
    Hopefully others will look at how their own businesses can help.

  16. Rachael Mwikali writes,

    Geraj Beejayx Whats in your hand? It begins with you.You dont wait for other people to act.How I wish you would begin with sensitization.,handwashing with soap or use of sanitizer,avoid shake of hands and overcrowding.
    Encourage people to cook food well..
    Thats enough preparation from your side.
    Disclaimer…This is not the response of our mentor but am one of his students.

    My reply,
    Excellent comment.
    It is certainly not “zero”, for two reasons:

    #1. As I have often said, the fact that I personally don’t know about something, does not mean it is not happening!
    Before we ever say “nothing is happening in Africa, we must always check. “

    There are a lot of preparations going on in Africa, that you are just not aware of. Now whether it is adequate or effective, only time will tell.
    In Nigeria, I can assure you, they are actually people working on this, even if it not in newspapers.

    #2. I know it’s not “zero” because Nigerians are the largest number of followers on this platform!
    My Nigerian partners have been taking my tips and moving!

    Let me tell you, something, we have saved lives together, since I posted this!

  17. Joel Anthony writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa I’ve been researching sir but it’s still really unclear. What is the business model for ambulance/paramedics/rescue teams. How do they really make money?
    Anyone with useful information pls?

    My reply,
    Ask this question next week, when we have returned to the issue of entrepreneurship.

    It is always wise to go with the flow and the mood. If you find people gathered at a funeral you do not try and borrow money, or switch on dance music.

    I will happily answer you next week!

    Right now, I just want to make sure we save lives, together!

  18. #This Coronavirus thing is serious O!

    If you go to the main news outlets globally, this story has been front page for more than three weeks!

    Just imagine China has more than 30,000 people infected and in hospital. They have entire cities of over 100m people in lock down.
    Countries like Russia, UK, US, and many others are trying to get tens of thousands of their citizens out of the country.

    It is not, and cannot be business as usual, unless one is completely ignorant about global health.

    Here I’m talking about the human cost, when it is over, I will talk about the economics, but let me warn you:
    African countries are going to devastated, even if the disease does not ever get to Africa. China is crucial to global economy, and Africa in particular. They buy a lot of our raw materials, and even finished products. This my friend is a disaster!

  19. #Tracing people who could have been infected, is actually a science:

    When we were trying to stop Ebola in West Africa, I realized for the first time, how complex is the science around tracking down people who could have potentially been infected.

    Imagine, if someone arrives at an airport, and in the space of 20 minutes that person could shake hands, or sneeze in the presence of many others. All those other people could be infected and infect others in a matter of hours and days.
    There are people trained to be able to tract down every single person who came into contact with the infected, and all those other potentially infected people!
    There is a global effort now under way to put in place the tracing mechanisms. How far the virus spreads in your country will depend on this capability.

    Surprisingly enough in the area of Ebola, we found that the Congolese were very effective in this Tracing process, because of their previous experience.

    Let’s @Knowledge-Up Now!

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