In full personal protective gear, medical staff attend to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) patients inside a makeshift intensive care unit (ICU) at Millennium Hall on Africa Avenue (Bole Road). These are not just some of the over 48,000 people reported to have contracted the virus. They are among the 829 severe cases that required hospitalisation by late last week.

Medical oxygen and ventilators are needed to keep them breathing. Glucose needs to be injected into their veins to keep their energy up, and careful monitoring is carried out to see if any complications arise. And yet, as was the fate of the patient in the photo (upper right) and 2,915 others that have been reported to have passed away thus far, recovery is not guaranteed.

On the global scale, and without accounting for poor record-keeping and data gathering in places such as Ethiopia, the number of cases and deaths is but a drop in the bucket. Around 130 million have caught the virus, and over 2.8 million have died globally. But what has prompted the authorities to pass laws banning gatherings of more than 50 people and being in public without a face mask was a recent spike in infection rates.

Since the first case was recorded around a year ago, infection rates jumped to 20pc, and medical centres began to turn patients away for lack of beds. Patients began dying by the dozens each day. It put a damper even on the occasion of the delivery of 2.2 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in the middle of last month, not to mention another 300,000 from China more recently.

Health authorities are looking to curb the spread of the virus by enforcing social distancing – at least legally – and expanding the health infrastructure. Most recently, medical equipment such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines – used to amplify and replicate DNA samples – and ventilators were obtained through a 30-million-dollar concessional loan from the South Korean Eximbank.

But even with what seems to be the third-wave of COVID-19, public health experts warn that “tough times are ahead” and "Ethiopia is living through its worst times." Considering the country’s weak health infrastructure, prevention is the better alternative, these experts urge. It is a hapless plea that continues to contend with the public’s pandemic fatigue.

You can read the full story    here    

PUBLISHED ON Apr 03,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1092]

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