Saturday, 21 March 2020

WE DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT CORONAVIRUS : VILLAGERS


VILLAGERS in some parts of the country might be sleep walking into a crisis of disastrous proportions if Covid-19 (coronavirus) was to hit the remote areas of the country, with many seemingly unaware of the basics about the disease or the steps needed to safeguard against contracting or spreading it.

The country is on high alert and President Mnangagwa last Thursday launched a Covid-19 National Preparedness and Response Plan as the country continues to heighten preparedness. However, despite an information blitz that has been received in urban areas, indications are that people in rural areas have not received adequate education about the rampaging virus.

When a Sunday News crew visited Matabeleland South last week, most people claimed they were oblivious of the virus and what they needed to do to combat it. 

Mr David Ncube (73) of Malahlela Village in Esigodini said although he has a radio where he was getting news updates about coronavirus, fellow villagers have no access to radios or newspapers and were relying on the grapevine about the pandemic.

“We don’t know much about this disease. Personally, I have been able to hear what has been said about it while listening on my radio. This morning for example I learnt a lot of things about this illness but unfortunately not all of us have radios. So, the information that most of us have has come from things that are discussed among  people when they go to fetch water.

“We really don’t know much about what is required. I know that we’re supposed to use soap to wash our hands but we don’t have these things and that’s not because we don’t want to have them but because we don’t have money to buy them. We’re poor so those things are not our priority,” Mr Ncube said.

For Mr Jabulani Ncube of Gongo Village, most of the information that is being spread is based on myths and fiction because no one is empowering them with the right information. 

“We have been told not to shake hands. That’s the only thing that we know. We don’t know anything else about what to do to help ourselves and not get this disease. We wish there would be people that could come and teach us about how this disease affects people and how we can stop it from spreading among ourselves,” Mr Ncube said.

When Sunday News crew got to Sibomvu Shopping Centre, three young men were sharing a calabash (opaque beer) and one of them Mr Jabulani Ncube (28) said they did not know if this could lead to their vulnerability to the coronavirus.

“We don’t know what this thing called coronavirus is. Maybe you people have come to give it to us, we don’t know. Right now, we are sharing a calabash between the three of us and it is not the first one that we have shared. We are people that live together and do everything together and I don’t think I can imagine telling my friend here next to me that he can’t share the calabash with me. That is not how we were raised and I don’t think we can start doing that because of a disease that we don’t know much about,” Mr Ncube said.
  
His companion and drinking partner, Mr Mthokozisi Dlamini said they were confused about what the disease was as the only source of news they have was the radio which blared loud music behind them.

“We would prefer it if there were people that came here to teach us. Right now, we don’t know much and there are a lot of stories being told about this coronavirus but the message is not reaching us. Maybe those that have radios may know what is going on but not everyone has a radio. As you can hear there is loud music playing right now and we can’t stop it so we can listen to news about coronavirus,” he said.

For Innocent Dlodlo (36),  educating older people about the virus would be an uphill task as some of the proposed measures to fight the virus, like not shaking hands, clashed with essential and long-held traditions in the area. 

Mrs Doris Ncube said even local healthcare workers had not provided them with much information about the virus.

“We have not had much information and even here at the clinic they have not told us much about what this virus is. As it is, we don’t know who catches it or who passes it on. I’m eating right now and I don’t even know if this is the right thing to do or not. We’re also the people who cook for our children at school, so if we catch something, they will also catch it so we are very worried right now,” she said. Sunday News

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