1. How long is the current shutdown of places going to take place given the enormous disruptions to normal life this has necessitated?
Answer: The experience of China and the history of viral behavior suggests that it will take at least six to eight weeks to contain the spread. This shutdown is very important in order to flatten the curve. It slows down the spread of the virus and buys time for resources to be available to be able to take care of those who eventually fall sick as a result of the infection.
2. What is the effect of temperature on the virus given that the heat of Africa would seem to be a good disinfectant? And are Africans’ immune systems resistant enough to ward off the virus easily?
Answer: This is misinformation and disinformation. This virus can be anywhere and everywhere. The problem is the inadequacy of the health systems in most African countries. Africans must learn a lesson from the HIV/AIDS experience where most lived in denial and took it for granted and it almost decimated the continent. COVID-19 is real and is present in Africa already. It knows no race and it is a myth to believe that the immune systems of Africans could fight it off better than any other place. COVID-19 is real and affects all indiscriminately.
3. How has COVID-19 been diagnosed in Africa when rich countries like the USA are struggling to keep up with testing?
Answer: The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) after the Ebola epidemic in Africa set up some CDC satellite centers in Africa. The Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is a Southern Cameroonian/Ambazonian Dr John Nkengasong. When COVID-19 broke out, CDC Africa was able to get test equipment from the World Health Organization (WHO) and distributed to African nations.
4. Why are people being asked to avoid touching the face which is such a common almost instinctive and involuntary act?
Answer: COVID-19 is a respiratory virus and predominant entry point is through the airways to the mouth/nostrils and down to the lungs. This is why as a preventive measure, people are asked to be conscious of this and avoid bringing the hands to the face. If somebody touched a surface that has the virus and never brings his hands to his face, he will invariably not contract the virus. Difficult as this may be, it is important for people to consciously avoid bringing their hands to the face.
5. There is so much talk about Chloroquine today which is an anti-malaria drug as being an effective remedy. Do you recommend it and when should one take it? Before manifesting the symptoms or as the symptoms manifest?
Answer: As Medical Doctors, we depend on scientific evidence. We cannot give medical advice without proof of its efficacy. Chloroquine is not a regimen that one can advise given that current studies do not meet the standards to demonstrate its effectiveness on COVID-19 in humans.
Many treatments and possible vaccines are currently being studied. Any news of treatment right now is still considered experimental!
6. How about such local remedies as limes, honey and fever grass?
Answer: These local remedies have been shown to work with controlling the symptoms and given that COVID is a respiratory virus, these could help with supportive care allowing the body to fight off the virus on its own.
Dr. Edwin Shadzeka
Dr. Edmund Folefac
Dr. Tonga Nfor
Dr. Fausta Ditah