Coronavirus simply known as COVID-19 is a pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan, China on 31 December 2019. Available information from Worldometer indicates that there are 423,882 cases of coronavirus around the world with 18,926 deaths and 109,172 people who have recovered from the disease in at least 170 countries and territories. Little wonder, the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020. In Nigeria, about 30 cases have been confirmed. Only recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) the deadly disease is both an epidemic and a pandemic which is taking its toll on the economic fortunes around the world. For instance, it is in the news that the international community is asking for US$675 million to help protect states with weaker health systems as part of its Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.
The infectious disease is said to be caused by a new virus causes respiratory illness (like flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever and difficulty in breathing. The virus is thought to spread mainly from personal contact within about 6 feet. When respiratory droplets of an infected person who coughs or sneezes lands in the mouths or nose of those who are nearby, they are easily infected. There are chances that if these droplets are inhaled into the lungs of others, they could suffer the sickness.
While it is regrettable that many people have lost their lives across the world, the seemingly positive side of the pandemic is the fact that for the first time in almost hundred years, from White House to Downing Street, Wall Street to the horn of Africa, the world appears to be in shivers. Sadly too, businesses have literally shut down. The novel development calls for sober reflection about life.
In a world that is divided along developed, developing and undeveloped countries, the coronavirus endemic is no respecter of geographical location. Although there are indications that the virus cannot withstand the heat or high temperature in tropics like Sub Saharan Africa, the point is, the increasing number of infections around the globe calls for serious synergy to curb the menace. The World Health Organisation (WHO) should play the father figure of harnessing resources and bringing everyone to the table to fight the disease.
The global crises of hunger, disease, war and discrimination should be replaced with a genuine call to global unity and peace. What this translates to is that for example, China, Russia, Germany, The United Kingdom, the United States of America (USA) et al should show an example by ensuring that the randomized trial drugs or vaccines should be made available to smaller countries of the world who cannot afford such. The world must see COVID-19 as an attack on humanity and synergize to fight it headlong.
In a world where some people think that faith and reason are inimical to each other, coronavirus is teaching us that science and religion are not opposed to each other. Otherwise, how can anyone explain that while there is no known cure for the disease, across Asia, Europe, America and Africa, many people are resorting to divine solutions. For instance, amateur video evidence shows people being blessed with the Blessed Sacrament; in other videos, the Blessed Sacrament is flown on a helicopter to bless the land and seek God’s divine intervention in the matter. Well, the long and short of the story is that without God, man and science amount to nothing.
Meanwhile, to nip the disease in the bud, members of the public should be vigilant and strictly adhere to sanitary rules outlined by WHO first among which is engaging in frequent washing of hands with 60% alcohol-based sanitizers. After you have been in public or blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing for about 20 seconds, it is important to wash your hands with soap and water.
Second, it is crucial to cover all surfaces of one’s hands and rub them together until they feel dry. People are advised to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with dirty hands. Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Don’t forget to dispose of used properly.
Third, it is important to avoid close contact of at least 1 meter or 3 feet with people who are sick. It is expected that putting a distance between yourself and other people would curb the spread of COVID-19 in the community especially among people who are at higher risk of contracting the disease. Always cover coughs and sneezes.
Fourth, those who are sick are encouraged to wear a facemask when they are around other people in a room, vehicle or before they enter a healthcare centre. As a precautionary measure, those who are taking care of infected persons are also encouraged to wear a facemask.
Fifth, keep a clean environment. Ensure that you clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks with detergent or soap and water on a daily basis.
One of the great lessons of COVID-19 is that the rich also cry. The pandemic also proves the point that death is no respecter of person. As such, we must work hard to remove the needless dichotomy which divides and separates the world. In conclusion, while the efforts of WHO and various governments of the world especially the Federal Ministry of Health, Centre for Disease Control and Lagos State Government are laudable towards curbing the menace, it is necessary for all state governments to create quarantine centres in all the 36 states of the federation. The citizenry must comply with the closure of schools and institutions and engaging in social interactions which pose risk. This will help stem the tide of the deadly disease across the length and breadth of the country.
Fr. Justine Dyikuk is a Catholic Priest and Researcher who combines being the Editor of Bauchi Caritas Catholic Newspaper, Communication’s Director of Bauchi Diocese with his job as a Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, University of Jos, Nigeria. He can be reached through – firstname.lastname@example.org.