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Some COVID-19 decisions are office politics without scientific basis – Puma

DR LWIPA Puma has questioned COVID-19 figures being released by the Ministry of Health, arguing that it could be the common flu we call icifine in some local languages.

On restrictions imposed on bars, church and other gatherings, Dr Puma argues, “These decisions are office politics without scientific basis because what you are thinking could happen to Zambians if they opened bars/night clubs up to midnight could scientifically thinking happen even if they opened for two hours”.

And Dr Puma says COVID-19 vaccination should not be mandatory but voluntary.

In his write-up titled: ‘New Year concerns and personal reflections on decisions being made on novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Zambia, Puma, a medical doctor, argues that the flu could have existed in the country for many years, “yet we did not know it”.

“I write this to you colleagues in the medical profession to express concern on the decisions being made pertaining to Coronavirus which if not well managed may cause unnecessary inconvenience to our citizenry,” he said. “Is there a possibility that the COVID-19 tests we are using could be picking our common human coronavirus (Icifine) as positive, thus exaggerating the number of COVID-19 cases, making us make wrong decisions that it is COVID-19? As you may be aware, if a person is found to be infected with our common human coronavirus that does NOT mean that that person is infected with the 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Have we cross-checked to be sure that the tests we are using are not confusing these two viruses by becoming positive with our local flu/cough?”

Dr Puma said there was also a possibility that people were living in fear of a disease that had existed for a long time.

Dr Puma, who also served as health deputy minister in the MMD government, said even common flu caused pneumonia and sometimes killed people.

“Further, after observations made so far, I have a feeling that there is a possibility that in fact we may have been living with this corona virus except that we didn’t have the test kits to detect it? If my assumption is proved correct in near future, then we may later realise that we are actually living in fear over a disease that we have lived with for a long time except we didn’t have the test kits,” he argued. “Admittedly, even our common human corona virus (icifine) causes pneumonia and death in some individuals. The rate at which positive cases are being detected casts doubt on me as a medical professional as to whether we are dealing with a strain that originated from China/elsewhere or it is actually our own Zambian corona virus.”

Dr Puma also said the government seemed to realise that the virus was not lethal after all as perceived earlier on.

“Further, the fact that we are now sending COVID-19 positive cases for self-isolation home implies that we have realised that this disease is not as lethal as earlier perceived in many positive cases, except in a few cases,” he said. “We have learnt lessons from the time this disease was said to have broken out. It is clear that this disease, similar to our Zambian human corona virus (icifine), is having more serious effects on the elderly, and people with underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and the immune suppressed individuals. It is clear that the disease is not having serious effects on children from grade one to university students.”

And Dr Puma suggested decisions the government should make so that it did not offend citizens.

He said the new government risked making decisions against public will as the PF did.

“My personal reflections and intuition make me appeal that we undertake the following decisions: (1) COVID-19 vaccination must be left to be voluntary: As most COVID-19 vaccines are new and immediate and long-term effects are still being studied and being evaluated, we should allow Zambians to freely decide on their own whether or not they want to be vaccinated,” he said. “In fact, this should create an opportunity for Zambian health professionals to study what is happening to the vaccinated and unvaccinated so that we make an informed locally generated decision. Health professionals should not just occupy themselves distributing the COVID-19 vaccines, but study our local situation and follow up on the vaccinated and unvaccinated, and follow up on those who consistently use masks and those who don’t use masks.”

Dr Puma further called on the government to “relax restrictions on churches, bars, nightclubs and restaurants”.

“Government should immediately relax restrictions and allow people to attend churches freely. If you can allow people to attend churches for one hour, they could as well be allowed to attend churches for three hours,” he argued. “Looking at the rate of transmissibility of the flu/cough and corona viruses in general which is very fast, people who contract flu/cough/corona viruses actually may meet for a very short period and so if they can’t get it in one hour then they can’t get it in three hours. This decision of restricting prayers to one hour instead of two/three hours has no scientific basis apart from infringing on the rights of worship of our citizens. If you have observed that the situation has become desperate, which I personally doubt, then all church activities should be banned altogether.”

Dr Puma described some of the decisions as politics without scientific basis.

“Immediately you allow people to assemble for one hour, then you better just allow them their two to three hours because what could happen in two/three hours could actually happen in one hour,” said Dr Puma. “In other words, these decisions are not using science but personal feelings as a way of showing off political power and authority, thus troubling our innocent citizens. Similarly, if you allow bars, night clubs etc to operate for two hours, you better justallow them to operate freely as they wish and as the law of our land stipulates than restricting. These decisions are office politics without scientific basis because what you are thinking could happen to Zambians if they opened bars/night clubs up to midnight could scientifically thinking happen even if they opened for two hours.”

Dr Puma’s full statement is in your Mast tomorrow.

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