By BEATRICE MATERU

There is no need to panic. Let’s all just go back to the time when we used to take measures to prevent ourselves from contracting and spreading this troublesome virus that’s caused a global pandemic, the novel Coronavirus.

Last week, a number of reports appeared on the news from our neighbouring countries and elsewhere on surging cases of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and that this surge is being fuelled by the new variants of the virus, the World Health Organization warned about.

These reports have raised numerous questions from the public on their safety and the way forward.

According to latest statistics from the Africa Centre for Diseases Control and Preparation, about 3.51 million people in the continent have been infected in the region while 88,993 people died of the virus and 2.9 million people have recovered from covid-19, as of 29 January 2021.

Statistics show most affected areas are the southern and northern African regions, which have the most number of people diagnosed with the virus and account for more than 85 per cent of the deaths in the continent.

In Tanzania, many of us had forgotten and stopped taking the necessary precautions ever since the country reopened in July, 2020 and life went back to normal. Although there are have been no official updates yet as to how many people have been diagnosed with the covid-19 virus or died from it since April last year, the Ministry of Health still advises on taking precautions as the best idea.

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Countries close to Tanzania such as Kenya, Zambia, South Africa and Botswana, are amongst the top five African countries with the most covid-19 diagnosis and most deaths including confirmed cases of the South African variant.

The South African variant carries a mutation, called N501Y, which appears to make it more contagious or easier to spread.

Since Covid-19 is spreading in our neighbouring countries and Tanzania’s airspace is still open, staying safe should be on each and everyone’s priority list.

Take some simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands with soap and water or sanitisers, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue…do it and Do it all!

So what do you do if it happens you are on Tanzanian turf and you feel sick? “You should rest, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food,” the World Health Organization advises.

As an alternative to medical treatments and the vaccine that most of Tanzanians may not have the chance to receive, the health ministry advises for local remedies that can cover the need.

Earlier this month, on the 1st of February, Tanzania’s Minister of Health, Social Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Dorothy Gwajima, emphasized on personal hygiene and the use of traditional and herbal remedies to battle the novel virus.

She mentioned about ten herbal remedies that among other ingredients are made using ginger, garlic, lemon and pepper

Speaking with the press in her office in the country’s capital, Dodoma, Dr Gwajima mentioned a number of local remedies that have been clinically proven to be safe by the nation’s chemists.

“For now let’s improve on both our personal hygiene and the environmental hygiene by washing our hands with running water and soap, using sanitisers and our traditional herbal remedies” she said.

Adding that we, Tanzanians, should be a good model to our neighbouring countries in the use of our local herbs which are not only for covid-19 but for other diseases as well such as Asthma, Flu and other novel diseases

Now that as a country, Tanzania has no plans on the table yet to bring in the vaccine, we are left with the basic measures for precaution and the traditional local remedies.

As of now there are about ten natural local remedies that have met the safety standards for use with some already in use.

“These traditional remedies have been in use for ages in our societies and many have been helped by them, myself and family included” she added.

Of the mentioned and approved local remedies, Dr Gwajima included Covidal, NIMRCAF, Planet++, Bingwa, Covontanxa, Uzima herbal drops, Bupiji, Eucalyptus oil, Lemograss essential oil, Ujana, Apamal, Life, Formular power, Jiko Shambani and many more.

One can also make the common dawa that we have been using in the past that comprises of ginger, garlic, lemongrass, lemon and pepper.

“There is no need to panic, It is a good thing that our usual natural remedies can come in handy at a time when we need them the most,” said Karina Chekani, a local business woman and mother of three. Highlighting how her and her family perform because of their regular use of local herbal remedies as a way to improve body immunity and prevent coronavirus.

“Now that the government has listed a number of these local natural remedies as part of the standard for precautionary care for Covid-19, we shouldn’t resist them, rather we embrace them as they truly bear the potential to save lives, giving us the hope of recovering and helping people return to normal” she added.

Tanzania became the first East African nation to reopen its airspace in the management of the deadly virus that has infected more than 60 million people across the world and killed over 1.5 million people in the space of about eleven months.

President John Pombe Magufuli announced the country to be corona-free six months ago in a public address in the capital city, Dodoma.

Apart from locally found natural remedies, the country received its first shipment of Madagascar’s self-proclaimed, plant-based covid-19 remedy on May 8 last year, despite warnings from the World Health Organization that its efficacy is unproven.

A vast majority of people are still vulnerable to coronavirus in other parts of the world and global health experts are racing to develop and deploy safe and effective vaccines to make covid-19 less deadly.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said there are currently more than 50 covid-19 vaccine candidates already in trials.

WHO is working in collaboration with scientists, businesses, and global health organizations through the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to speed up the pandemic response.

Coronavirus is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales. According to health experts, these droplets are too heavy to hang in the air, and quickly fall on floors or surfaces.

The need to panic will only generate chaos. We now understand that like any other virus, covid-19 is here to stay and what matters is our ability to adapt just as it is mutating so that we are able to live with it.

The human immune system grows stronger when it is exposed to viruses because it learns to fight the disease. Isolating ourselves, although recommended in some scenarios, is not necessarily the best solution for everyone.

The very vaccines you are given are simply weakened versions of the disease and sitting in isolation and waiting to receive this vaccine doesn’t give you better chances of survival. It only weakens your immunity therefore the use of herbal remedies will boost your immunity better than locking yourself in isolation will.



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