In responding to the global coronavirus pandemic, the one thing I will not let happen to me is fear. Living in fear is the worst attitude to adopt in the face of the Covid 19, as the coronavirus disease is called. Of course it is natural to nurse fears when danger is imminent. But the imminence of danger provokes faith. I would therefore expect that it will all come to pass, and we will be more experienced. Often, the tendency is to live in fear believing fear itself is concern, whereas fear and concern are two different feelings. Fear kills hope and inhibits rational thinking, it sparks off despair, but concern forces the mind to consider options. Concern helps you to critically analyze your situation and take decisions using a balanced and well informed mind. So for me, I would stay calm, live normally, and do not even listen to your body, lest you hear what you are listening for. Already I see a new nation, religious and ethnic bigotry have been subdued, city community are united in anticipating the unknown. I see sincerity in the fervent calls upon the heavens.
In times like we are in now, to be afraid is natural. Nigerians are easily afraid because personal security has been gravely compromised. We are a society that has become numb to violent death – for long, a common happenstance. Helplessly, the people are victimized by banditry, armed robberies, marauding criminals who raid whole villages for no reason other than to destroy and to plunder, and bizarre criminal activity, as if the law does not exist. In spite of the country’s immense wealth, the people suffer institutional failures and inadequacies. You are less likely to succeed in endeavour because the playing field is not level, and distracting vagaries abound. In most spheres, seconds beat the first in weird abnormality. Then we have the health sector that has been decrepit for years, hardly anyone has confidence that it can rise to the scourge of the Covid 19.
Weeks ago, it seemed so far away from us in Nigeria as we watched the dying humanity in Wuhan China, and we lived on in hope and the wishful thinking that by the time it crossed the seas and got to us in Nigeria; something, whatever it was, but something positive would have happened, like the discovery of a vaccine, treatment, and cure. Then we watched it migrate – a vicious murdering cloud, across Asia to the Middle East, Europe, the United States taking the lives of hundreds, and finally on to us now in Africa. We probably thought it spared world leaders who continued to brief us, then Canadian Prime Minister and his wife were hit, sportsmen we loved and admired came down with it, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel self isolated because her doctor had been infected, and US Senators Rand Paul, Mitt Romney, Mike Lee, Cory Gardner, and Rick Scott including popular political names caught the plague. So covid 19 did not spare celebrities!
Today, with only 37 confirmed cases in Nigeria as I write this column, it has hit us hard, because it has hit home. It is as close as next door – very personal now. The one Nigerian death reported is of a well known personality, and in shock, we have consoled our bereaved friends. The tweet from former Vice President announcing that his son had tested positive to the corona virus disease was a shocker – he was in every way a son of mine. Shortly after that, the Governor of Bauchi State, was reported to have isolated himself as advised by the National Centre for Disease Control. Four of his Commissioners were also self isolating to await results from their taken samples. They were all well known friends and associates. These are people we know and love, and in traditional African love, we would love to be closer to them in times of challenges like sickness.
So there it is. The one element human nature hates to lose is freedom, especially to associate. We are by nature not the social distancing type of people. We live on love and physically expressed affection. That you must self isolate and you must stay home are against our being. It is this curtailment or even the seizure of freedom that has proven traumatic, even for the physically challenged.
In responding to the virus, I must realize that I have responsibility for the well-being of all my loved ones. I must hence lose my cherished freedom to indulge in my own preservation, and as well the preservation of all. I must obey the directives of authorities, based on informed medical advice. The one sure way of stemming the pandemic is social distancing, staying at home in the lock down as prescribed, and keeping to all tenets of hygiene.
I must also believe in the capacity of the government, with a well acclaimed response so far. We have successfully cured the index case, traced and as well treated the infected single contact to the index case even faster. I must trust that the medical officials have got a hang of it in a control template that will be applied nationwide. I will therefore refuse to countenance alternative information that speaks doom, in total variance with true happenings. I must be deaf to the other pandemic of lying tongues especially on social media. I must condemn all rumours and their peddlers.
The greatest response to the corona virus pandemic is obedience to official dictates, to keep indoors, to strictly keep to social distancing, and to avoid unnecessary contacts, handshakes and hugs. I must keep clean, all the time washing my hands with soap, and applying sanitizer whenever I am exposed.
My concern is the societal deficiencies that the underprivileged suffer. Without pipe borne water for starters, hawkers deliver as is bought from sources that have no integrity. Transportation is through an uncontrollable commuter service with overloading of passengers, and hence defeating the whole effort of social distancing, in interdependent community members. House helps, care givers, dependent relations all come to mind. I am greatly disturbed that in Italy, the victim count in one month began from 5 and zero death. The government could not enforce a stay at home order as citizens disobeyed and in 30 days Italy’s cases rose to 60,000 victims and 5,400 deaths. Today, Italy has recorded the highest deaths globally. Without the developed health care delivery system that Italy has, how will Nigeria, yet to strictly enforce stay at home orders fare? I do not feel that Government measures have been drastic enough, I am concerned and anxious. Even then, keeping prayerful, I say it myself, protect yourself and by so doing, your community. We might not be as bad as Italy, where our first victim came from. Believe God.