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Wednesday, 12 August 2020

COVID-19 Past the Peak?

Over the past month, we have seen large increases in the numbers of coronavirus cases here in Zambia. We had more than 400 cases reported on several days and the total number of cases showed exponential growth. Exponential growth in anything is usually unsustainable so eventually, the number of coronavirus cases must reach a maximum and thereafter decline.

A graph of the number of active cases should look a bit like a mountain; we will climb up one side reach the peak and then descend the other side. Once we reach the peak, the number of cases will come down roughly as rapidly as it rose if previous epidemics are any guide. This will happen inevitably without the advent of a vaccine or other cure. Looking at a chart of the number of active cases (third chart on this page) shows just such a development. I am not a public health expert of any kind, but that chart does appear to show that the peak occurred some time at the end of July. There are many caveats to this observation such as the accuracy of the statistics and the possibility that this is just a blip in a larger overall trend. We will have to watch carefully what happens in the next few weeks. Only when the number of cases has been falling for some time will our board consider moving beyond very limited access to campus.

In the meantime, we must do what we can to limit the spread of this virus that threatens our lives and our livelihoods. In the case of our school, this consists in keeping our campus closed for now in line with government instructions. The last thing we need is a renewed increase in the prevalence of this vexatious virus. We do, however, have permission from the government to open our examination classes. When we believe we are safely ready to do so we will, with the blessing of our board, begin to welcome students in those classes back to campus. I do expect in the next few weeks to see some Year 13 students returning to campus followed in succession by students from other year groups leading to public examinations. We will be overjoyed to see students back on campus but only when it is safely possible to do so. We must all support the national effort to combat this dastardly disease.

In order for any year group to open three things must be in place:

  1. Legal authority to open that year group.
  2. Proper safety measures planned and implemented at school.
  3. The blessing of our board and the confidence of our community.

At the moment we have legal authority for only a few year groups in secondary. This is unfortunate as the older children are best placed to benefit from online learning while the younger ones, for whom there is currently no permission to open, really struggle with that medium.

The scourge of the coronavirus will pass. We will have students back on campus. Economic conditions will improve. Until then we must keep calm and carry on doing what we do - serving the students in our care.

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