By Dr Kelvin Mambwe
“In February 2020, our Minister of Health, Hon. Chitalu Chilufya had an opportunity to keep this country out of danger of the Covid 19 when he stood in Parliament and rejected the idea of travel ban; when he compared that act to xenophobia. Today, the very nation that he seemed to have been protecting cannot allow him entry into its territories.
The Minister and his colleagues demonstrated ignorance of the scale of damage that this virus is capable of. He and his government appeared to protect their very narrow interests which are now under threat than the interests of the citizens.
Why was the travel ban necessary then?
From the 35 confirmed cases of Covid 19 announced by his office, 95% were all imported into the country by citizens that traveled out of the country and back within March. The first case, we are told, involved a couple that had traveled to France around or on 9th March 2020 and came back around 19th March with the virus. The subsequent cases involved a cluster of ‘pilgrims’ who had traveled to Pakistan, again around the same time. These too came with the virus into the country. From this picture, it is clear that had the Minister and his Government imposed a travel ban at least for citizens in February, Zambia could have been free from the virus, at least for now.
How effective are the screening procedures being conducted at our airports and borders?
I am not confident in the screenings taking place at the airports and borders. If these screenings were strictly following the WHO protocols on screening of travelers coming from affected areas, our “Pakistan” brothers should have under gone mandatory qurantine as provided for by WHO. This was not done. Neither was self qurantine monitored to the letter. This explains why today we have a domestic worker working for one of the Pakistan traveler infected by the Covid 19 as reported. It is clear that Zambia is not doing enough. you should ask yourself this question: why did the Ministry of Health allow travelers that had been to affected nations entry into the country without subjecting them to mandatory quarantine? If they had advised them to self isolate, how sure were they that these people would not break the rules? And why didn’t the Ministry round up every one that had been to Pakistan at once and force them to undergo qurantine?
Hon Minister and your friends, please learn that leadership demands putting the interests of the citizens first even if it means denying them some rights. You cannot fight Covid with half hearted measures.”