Over two years, between 22 March 2020 and 8 February 2022, Zimbabwe has recorded a total of 5,367 Covid deaths within a population of almost 17 million. That calculates as 16 deaths per 100,000 per year. There was never a “Covid pandemic” in Zimbabwe. However, the response to it – lockdowns and restrictions – have devastated the population, particularly the poorest.
The impact of the “pandemic” in sub-Saharan Africa remains markedly lower compared to the Americas, Europe and Asia. South Africa, the outlier, was the worst affected country in the region. And 33% of Covid-19 outbreaks in South Africa occurred in long-term care facilities during the “first wave.”
But the same cannot be said of lockdowns, restrictions and “containment” measures. Relatively few countries in the world offered financial assistance to their populations during Covid lockdowns and restrictions. The remainder of the world’s population, such as in Africa, simply suffered under the draconian measures with no income and, in many cases, reduced to near starvation.
From The First Lockdown
In Zimbabwe, the abrupt announcement of the first, and then extended, Covid lockdown gave informal sector vendors little time to organise their savings and stock up on food.
“Vendors state that they cannot afford to be home and not work, whilst going out to work exposes them to police violence and potentially contracting the virus,” the Institute of Development Studies reported on 20 May 2020, six weeks after the first “21 day” lockdown was imposed.
“If I don’t go to work, my whole family will die of hunger – so what difference does it make? It is better to take the risk of getting the coronavirus than to see my family starve to death,” stated one such vendor. At the time many had reduced their food intake to two meals a day and the quantity of their food portions to save the little they had.
A month before, one week after the nationwide lockdown was imposed, it was reported that over 5000 households in a Mashonaland West town were starving and in urgent need of food assistance as the lockdown took its toll on impoverished residents.
Two years later and lockdowns and restrictions continue to take their toll in Zimbabwe. A UNICEF report published on 1 February 2022 stated:
“Containment measures introduced in 2021, which included lockdowns, school shutdowns, and curfews severely affected business operations and had deleterious impacts on industry, and the informal sector and eroded the fragile livelihoods of the vulnerable population of Zimbabwe … with 2.4 million people in urban areas becoming food insecure.”
The Omicron Impact
Soon after South African scientists dutifully and honestly alerted the world of the new variant, European countries shut their doors not only to South Africa but also its neighbours, most of which had no record of the variant at the time. Curiously, other countries like Belgium which had recorded cases of the variant were spared. The distinctive feature of these bans was that they were all imposed on African countries. There was no plausible scientific basis for this selective application of the rules.
The UK Government website, to this day, states: “Zimbabwe currently has exceptional measures in place to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. You are encouraged to defer any unnecessary travel. There is a curfew between midnight and 5:30am, which is being enforced by the security services.”
The fact that South Africa was the first to announce the discovery did not mean that it or its neighbours were the origins of the variant. Indeed, as it turned out, the variant may already have been in existence in other countries well before South Africa’s discovery and disclosure.
South Africa’s neighbour, Botswana, the source of the initial samples that led to the discovery of the variant announced that those samples had been obtained from four diplomats from a European country who had visited the country in early November. In a move that surprised many people in Africa, the President of Botswana avoided naming their country of origin. The European country in turn did not volunteer its identity.
However, this did not matter to the knee-jerk reactors. Big media organisations such as the BBC were already calling it “the South African variant” immediately attaching the identity of the variant to an African country.
On the other side of the world, a newspaper in Thailand, The Bangkok Post had another sinister headline: “Government hunts for African visitors”.
Read more: Africa’s Plight: rebranding Covid-19 as an African disease, Big Saturday Read, 11 December 2021
It is not only for African populations the lockdowns have caused harm. In Malaysia, lockdowns led to many in the informal sector and the self-employed losing their jobs and incomes. “The reason for the higher poverty rate is clear with the increasing lockdowns,” said Jayasooria, a research fellow at University Kebangsaan Malaysia.
The fact that the poverty threshold was more than double when calculating the 2019 statistics may have also led to more Malaysian households being included in last year’s poverty numbers, and that the reality on the ground is that “these stats may be more severe,” Jayasooria said, “it’s very easy – just stop having lockdowns.”
It Should Not Come as A Surprise
The fact that lockdowns hurt the poorest should not come as surprise to anyone. It is something that experts have been warning since the beginning. But regardless of experts’ opinions, it is common sense: if someone’s source of income is removed from them, they are unable to buy the necessities in order to live.
A paper published in the December 2020 issue of the Indian Journal of Tuberculosis warned: “In India, Covid-19 related lockdown may double levels of poverty, exacerbate food insecurity and disrupt TB services.”
And in October 2020, WHO’s Dr. David Nabarro told Spectator TV such restrictive measures should only be treated as a last resort. He said tight restrictions cause significant harm, particularly on the global economy.
“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never, ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.
“Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”
In Western so-called “democracies” the trend that poor families are hardest hit by the “pandemic” is the same, even with the financial assistance given by governments. In February 2021, a reminder of the devastating and long-term effects of Covid lockdowns and restrictions in the UK was published in the British Medical Journal (“BMJ”):
“Predicted long term economic effects include loss of future earnings and unemployment, pushing more adults, particularly parents, into poverty. The effect of the pandemic on employment is predicted to be 10 times greater than that of the 2008 financial crisis, which led to a sharp increase in suicides and mental illness. The pandemic induced recession is likely to have a similarly damaging effect on mental health.
“By far the most devastating long-term costs of the pandemic are likely to fall on today’s children as they grow, develop, and forge their own economic futures. Child poverty is already the biggest threat to child health and development in the UK and globally, so the predicted increase is concerning.”
Did anyone listen to the numerous warnings about Covid lockdown harms? No. Wealthier people, believing they are “saving” themselves, go along with the global scientific dictatorship – helping the rich to get richer – never once stopping to consider what impact wrapping their comfort blankets around themselves is having on those less fortunate. Is this the “new normal”?
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