In uncertain times, where the world is seeing unprecedented changes, our regular columnist reflects on the COVID19 pandemic and the way it is being discussed in development circles. Remember, stay safe and #StayHome.
These are strange times indeed that remind all of us that we’re humans after all. In the world of football (which has been suspended indefinitely), we would call Corona Virus an *Equalizer*. A few years back, Africa became a butt of sick jokes related to Ebola, SARS, West Nile Virus and to a certain extent, HIV/AIDS. It looked like Africa was like that boy next door your mother warned you about. But well, how times have changed.
It’s not news anymore, but truly, the COVID19 decided to come out in China, spreading to almost all countries on earth. The CDC has set up a global map showing the distribution of cases. Reports from astronauts shall be coming to my table in the next few hours to ascertain the existence of Coronavirus in the mesosphere and other planets. Until then…the disease has hit the transport sector quite hard, of course with the general WHO recommendation asking humans to #StayAtHome. While this has adverse effects on the economy, education and security, it is, directly a cheaper way of fighting any pandemic. The science is quite simple, to stop the multiplier effect of the virus making it easier to track and manage at a specific place, at a specific time with a specific person while monitoring the agent, host and the environment: that’s what epidemiologists shall tell you in their scary gigantic words *Epidemiological Triad*.
In most countries, there have been calls to suspend public transport. Only cargo planes, cargo vehicles are allowed in and out with very minimal operational personnel. Borders have been closed for all humans. This is not a good time for a sick person to seek treatment outside their country, probably a note to a number of countries who suffer from this undiagnosed social disease. Transport and fuel costs are competing with each other in an unhealthy, unpredictable hell of a marathon. Schools, churches and other public gatherings exceeding 10 humans have been banned. It’s a trend that we can only forecast how long it will go.
Now, as this happens, self-styled Public Health Analysts and Advocates are throwing stones at their own houses by comparing the deaths rates (mortality rates) arising from Corona Virus and those from Road Traffic Crashes. And oh my word, it’s probably the most inhumane comparison I have seen for the 2 times I have been on earth. I have heard some young people claim medical trances of how the virus only kills the elderly! It’s a total blatant all day long naked lie and completely insensitive. Save the drama, but you see you can’t measure the severity of any disease by the number of people it kills, that’s kindergarten level statistical analysis and neither me nor certified Public Health Specialists have the time right now to take y’all into University level statistical analyses. At the time when we’re supposed to be supporting each other’s spine, throwing lines about how Corona Virus is getting more attention than road safety is a direct own goal. This is not the time, certainly not the period to remind your neighbour how they have to pay back the offspring of the cow you gifted them last year! (It’s a common cultural practice that if I give you a cow or any animal today when it calves down, you ought to give me back the calf.)
Let’s be human and stick to the recommendations from the Ministries of Health and WHO. For those who pray, do so even more, scream, that the political leaders make better choices to direct traffic to control this global pandemic. After this strange illness, I hope we shall have a mutually respective conversation without pointing fingers, setting unrealistic expectations and conditions based on your geographical coordinates. Stay Safe Humanity.