Covid-19 has no ethnic boundaries, medical expert emphasises

ALL AFFECTED: The Eastern Cape's Covid-19 public health medicine consultant and advisor, Professor Francis Leonard Mpotte Hyera, says it's dangerous - and wrong - to assume the coronavirus is only a European disease
ALL AFFECTED: The Eastern Cape's Covid-19 public health medicine consultant and advisor, Professor Francis Leonard Mpotte Hyera, says it's dangerous - and wrong - to assume the coronavirus is only a European disease
Image: SUPPLIED

The Eastern Cape’s Covid-19 public health medicine consultant  has dispelled myths around racial profiling of the pandemic, which is falsely rumoured to be a Eurocentric disease.

According to a media statement released by Walter Sisulu University spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo, Professor Francis Leonard Mpotte Hyera has 42 years of experience in the medical fraternity.

She said Hyera had served in medical monitoring and evaluation as well as project management on a local and international capacity at UN  level.

Hyera, who is the university’s head of department in the faculty of health sciences, said Africans had every reason to have concerns about  the virus.

He said some people were suggesting Covid-19 was a disease of white people, not unlike in the 1990s when many African people thought HIV/Aids was a European disease.

“Africans then discovered they were getting infected and they were dying of HIV.

“People panic because there isn’t enough community awareness on the disease [Covid-19] causation and prevention.

“There’s a lack of research and clear communication from our local environments except from the president.

“The biggest challenge is that we are less prepared for this outbreak in terms of awareness creation.”

Hyera added that communities were not aware of the proper referral system once they showed symptoms of the virus.

In addition to government interventions, he  pleaded with businesses and organisations to play their role to mitigate the reach of the pandemic.

He asked that they influence their employees  to change their behaviour, create awareness of the disease, and encourage staff  to disseminate factual coronavirus messages to their families and communities.

He further requested financial support for trainers of disease prevention.

Hyera believes there  should also be health promotion focusing on large gatherings specifically in the transport industry business at taxi ranks, funeral industries, and at cultural and religious events.

“Students could play a role by contributing to the body of research work done on the impact of Covid-19 by generating action-based research on the outbreak in terms of lessons learnt.

“The evidence-based transition onwards could be on socio-economic, medical, behavioural and social cultural factors towards the pandemic,” Hyera said.

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