Social Distancing Cuts COVID-19

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BACKGROUND

In the Wealthy Affiliate blog post of the 3rd April 2020, titled “The UK, the FK and COVID-19”, I wrote about “the FK”, Lesotho, and indicated how at that stage it was one of only two inland African countries that were still COVID-19 free, with the other two countries being island countries. This scenario was brought about by the effectiveness of Social Distancing in the prevention of COVID-19 and other (respiratory) infectious diseases, which will be discussed in detail in this article.

Soon after that post of 3 April, the other inland African country, South Sudan, reported a handful of cases. It was soon followed by one of the island countries, Sao Tome & Principe.

In the past few days, the remaining island country of Africa, Comoros, reported COVID-19 invasion, and the tally as of the 5th May 2020, was 4 people.

CURRENT SITUATION

As of close of business on 05/05/2020, the FK, Lesotho, was The Last Woman Standing in Africa, the only African country with no reported COVID-19 case. All specimens sent to the WHO regional reference laboratory in South Africa have been negative for Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Islands are the long-held bosses at the art of Social Distancing. They usually remain free of infections and infestations during epidemics. Africa has about a dozen island countries, and all have been invaded by COVID-19, leaving landlocked Lesotho, which is surrounded by South Africa,  the African country with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Pic: Ncatya's Nek, Lesotho, one of the border areas with South Africa. The beautiful mountain to the right is just beyond the border, in Eastern Cape

(Pic: Ncatya’s Nek (“Qacha’s Nek”), Lesotho, one of the border areas with South Africa. The beautiful mountain to the right is just beyond the border, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa)

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WHAT HAS PROTECTED LESOTHO?

There will be many theories. I am going to advance my own theory, but would like to start by expressing utter surprise at the fact that the world, instead of taking notes from Lesotho and quickly applying the lessons to save the nations of the world, has found it more important to urgently investigate whether Lesotho really does not have COVID-19. Right now, 2 million test kits have been mobilised so as to test the country of 2 million citizens! These kits could be put to better use in heavily affected countries to identify infected individuals for infection control purposes and proper treatment. Using the test kits in South Africa, for example, would be more cost effective and would keep Lesotho Coronavirus-free for a long time because all the four leading South African provinces in COVID-19 (W Cape, Gauteng, KZN, E Cape), have strong trade and job market links with Lesotho. Furthermore, there was a serious incident of COVID-19 test kits that were destined for the UK, that were found to be contaminated with Coronavirus! It is reasonable to be uneasy about the test kits that are collected and sent to an African country that is COVID-19 free, and that will not be able to ascertain the safety and accuracy of the kits before they are distributed in the country and used.

Lesotho was for the most part of the second half of the Twentieth Century, seen as being a strategic point by the international anti-apartheid community. She was used for being in “the belly” of Apartheid South Africa, by all manner of activists, academics, cultural boycotters and military personnel. And immediately when that usefulness expired in the 1990s, with the political changes occurring in South Africa, Lesotho became dispensable. Almost all countries of the world, with the notable exception of the United States and China, withdrew their embassies and consulates from Lesotho, transferring them to Pretoria, South Africa. Aid of all kinds also dried up. But this was a blessing in disguise, from a COVID-19 perspective.

EPIDEMICS ARE FUELLED BY HUMAN MOVEMENT

Having studied General Science and Medical Science a generation ago, I now believe that pandemics might not have occurred, if there was no uncontrolled movement of humans across the globe as a result of warfare and other conflicts, and unnecessary international travel. The Spanish Flu pandemic was aided by “World War 1”. HIV and AIDS pandemic was also fuelled by the many civil wars and trans-country movements towards the close of the Twentieth Century. And as mentioned before, there was a lot of movement in and out of Lesotho in the 1970s and 1980s, which partially contributed in placing her among the three countries with the highest prevalence of HIV in the world.

(Pic: Mining in South Africa attracted about a quarter of Lesotho’s able bodied men in the Twentieth Century. Unfortunately, it is a devastating breeding ground for HIV and TB infections)

(Pic: There was incessant political turmoil in the world in the 1960s to the 1990s, and Lesotho was one of the worst affected countries, being also used as a pawn in the anti-apartheid efforts)

 

Lesotho has been saved by a turnaround in her fortunes, with the world practically forgetting her. At the other extreme, in neighbouring South Africa, the province with the highest amount of international tourism, the Western Cape, home to Robben Island and Table Mountain, is and has been the one with the highest number of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Per Hundred Thousand Population (CCCPHTP). This is the correct expression of disease cases (especially infectious diseases), rather than the absolute number. (In May 2020, the Western Cape has overtaken the Gauteng province even in terms of the absolute number of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases.)

If needs be, I will go into the issue of CCCPHTP in detail in a future post, and show how the most popular tourist provinces in South Africa have the highest burden, and how the least visited have the lowest CCCPHTP.

CONCLUSION

Suffice to say, the isolation of the tiny kingdom of Lesotho has given an important lesson on the effectiveness of Social Distancing, and that the global community had better approach the issue with a lot more seriousness.

And we should not be surprised if the FK, Lesotho, could be The Very Last Woman Standing, the last country on Earth to report a COVID-19 case.

13 Replies to “Social Distancing Cuts COVID-19”

  1. Hello there thanks for this insightful review. It was helpful to me I must say. Well the best way to fight this virus is to restrict movement. The virus cannot move on its own, it needs people to move it and so if we could actually maintain social distancing it would go a long way in fighting the virus. But then again we still need to maintain a good hygiene.

  2. I’ve got to say that I’m so much impressed on you sharing such a insightful review regarding the Last Woman Standing a lesson on the effectiveness of social distancing he fight  covid 19. it’s no joke that  ravaging pandemic outcome and still within us all you got to do is take every precautionary measures which includes social distancing, constant wearing of face mask, washing our hands to help stop the spread of the disease…

  3. Thanks for the article, I think in the end its really a balance of international trade and health. Yes international travel and trade will increase the spread of any disease, however with no travel comes no international trade or business, which is not good for any economy.  I believe there should be a balance.  

    1. Hi Shawn,

      Thanks very much for your well articulated input.

      Trade is very important and our livelihoods depend on it. But aggressive pandemics like COVID-19 can very easily reverse whatever economic gains are made, if proper measures are not taken. Non-essential Travel (e.g. for leisure, such as thrashed out here: https://personalandglobalhealt…) is something that should have been completely restricted at the onset of the epidemic. Vulnerable countries should have allowed / should allow goods and essential Travellers only through their ports of entry.

      Warmest regards.

  4. Such an educating post,  the importance of social distancing in the period of the coron virus pandemic cannot be over emphasized,  just as you mentioned above there really would have been no pandemic if there was a controlled movement of people from ine region to the other,  thus there would be a concentrated effort in curbing the virus where it first broke out from and by now the world would have been expering normalcy,  but notwithstanding we’re in a pandemic and such we need to practice the laid down method in curbing this virus such as social distancing,  washing  of hands,  coughing into elbow etc. And most asurely we would come out of this stronger.

    1. Hi,

      Thanks very much for your input.

      The world seems unable to pull in one direction. COVID-19 could have ended up as a localised epidemic like SARS or MERS.

      But as you say, what remains now is to pick up the lessons and cautiously move forward.

      Regards.

  5. Hi,

    this post is very meaningful to me, since I’m Italian and even if I live in Hungary, my family lives in one of the regions where the Covid19 infected more people.

    In Italy, Social Distancing took many months to start decreasing the infections, and actually it seems it works. There are still a lot of infected people, but their number is constantly decreasing, and it seems that it is thanks to Social Distancing.

    Unfortunately, as you mentioned, everybody is more interested on getting accurate data instead of focusing on the solution which was more effective somewhere in the world.

    I really appreciate your post. Thank you for sharing.

    Have a great day,

    Andrea

    1. Hi Andrea,

      Thanks very much for your input and insights.

      We share the pain that you as Italians and diaspora experienced and continue to experience as COVID-19 ravaged your country more than most countries of the world. What a human tragedy it has been!

      But it is encouraging to hear that the epidemic in Italy is somewhat coming under control. From the history of the epidemic in the country, definitely human contact and human movement inadvertently spread the virus between regions. Therefore the way to reverse the situation is to practice Social Distancing measures of the highest standards until the new infections reach zero or thereabouts.

      Wishing you and all your compatriots, the greatest resolve to turn things around.

  6. According to my, view, this article needs to be read by everyone in these difficult times. There is so much to learn from it. Social distancing is the most vital step now to control the spread of Covid-19 and yet there are some people who do not follow these steps. Everyone should learn from the actions of this city. They need to be appreciated so much for following every precaution and saving their city from this virus. What most of the countries of the world could not do, this city alone has done. They must be so proud of themselves! sure. thanks for you.

    1. Thanks for your comments.

      Some countries seem to have given up, or are sceptical of the effectiveness of Social Distancing. So we do need to share stories and learn from each other.

      Regards.

  7. What an inspiring post! If the issue of COVID-19 had been taken seriously, most affected countries would have been able to contain its spread from country to country and the number of infections and deaths would have reduced across the world. So, I also want to believe that the spread of the virus became enhanced as a result of many unnecessary international movements.

    Currently, in my home country, we have reported more than six thousand people that got infected with more than 150 deaths as we speak now. Glad you came up with such an informative post!

    Israel Olatunji

    1. Hi Israel,

      Thanks for your input.

      Although we would like to be positive and say, “at least lessons have been learnt for next time”, the reality is that too many people died or suffered unnecessarily. And we should have learnt from previous pandemics and localised epidemics.

      But humanity doesn’t seem to learn.

      Sorry that it has affected your country that much already.

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