Is there a link between second covid wave and climate crisis?

Climate Change

The New Year has started off with the news of a new wave of Covid-19 that is ravaging China. It is almost like a replay of 2020.

According to models, at least one million people may die in China as a result of the new wave. Analysts say cases of Covid-19 have sharply risen in China since the government dropped its zero-Covid policy last December.

In the wake of this new development. Many countries have reacted by policing their borders. Last week for example, the United States announced visitors from China require to test negative within two days of departure.

Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia followed suit; and the European Union has urged its member States to do likewise.

Business as usual status

African States including Kenya have maintained a business as usual status and may likely relive 2020 if no firm action is taken. As the developed nation are taking swift action, Africa continues to host planes flying in and out to China.

Taking into account that all the 55 African States reported a total of 12,137,167 Covid-19 cases and 256,412 deaths from the virus, it is worrying how Kenya is not acting as the new wave sweeps over China.

Seemingly, African governments are so forgiving and forgetful of the damage the novel coronavirus meted on our societies.

Less than 30 months ago our entire continent was under quarantine because of Covid-19.

Businesses, school calendars and farming activities were all affected, the inconveniences of not travelling, wearing of masks and high costs of living are still fresh in our minds.

Markedly, Kenya endured a serious financial beating and the aftermath was vividly seen in the international trade performance, particularly its financial and commodity markets stagnated and the entire macroeconomic environment changed exponentially.

The personal income tax top rate was reduced from 30 per cent to 25 per cent, there was also a 100 per cent tax relief instituted for low-income earners followed by a reduced VAT rate. In a nutshell, the economy was tried and fell short of a booster that would have insulated the negative repercussions of Chinese debts.

Link to climate change

Whereas the origin of Covid-19 remains mysterious and controversial, new evidence links it to climate change. A study by Havard's Centre for Climate, Health and Global Environment reveals that climate change has already made conditions more favourable to the spread of infectious diseases, including but not limited to Lyme disease, waterborne diseases such as Vibrio parahaemolyticus which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, and mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.

While the study does not explicitly show a correlation of climate change and the spread of Covid-19, it certainly does not dismiss the potential of its occurrence.

The unprecedented weather patterns seem to coincide with the resurgence of Covid-19.

The study notes that climate change has created fewer places to live and fewer food sources to feed on.

Hence, animals have sought to find food and shelter where people are, and this could lead to disease spread. Additionally the study highlights that in the past diseases have entered into people from animals.

This means that there is a likelihood it could happen again particularly through domesticated animals which could be host pathogens, like the flu and other contagious diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

Notably, the study also notes that massive concentrations of people in cities could yield to transmission of infections through sneezing and hence the need of taking extreme precautions.

If the findings of this study are anything to go by, then the correlation between climate change and Covid-19 is imminent and developing countries particularly those in Africa could suffer a double tragedy of both.

It is worth noting that Dr Aaron Bernstein, Director of Harvard Chan C-CHANGE has stated that there is no direct evidence linking the spread of Covid-19 to climate change.

However he emphasised that we have many reasons to take climate action to improve our health to reduce risks of spreading infectious disease.

Going forward, as a long term strategy, African governments need to revisit and revamp the already compromised emergency responses, and existing health system resilience to manage multiple potential stresses that could emanate as a result of climate change.

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Climate Change COVID-19