This COVID19 situation – things seen and heard so far

Friday, March 20, 2020

Image result for picture from around the world on corona


Late last year, I took off from public living and social media, to focus on work and other real time responsibilities.

A friend kept bugging me about how soon I would be back. My response was always a casual laugh, and a “No time soon… unless the world is coming to an end”.

I had no idea that 2020 was listening, and smugly responded with a “Hold my beer”.


Since the onset of this year, there have been events in quick succession which had seemed apocalyptic at the occurrence of each one.

First, in a (quite unnecessary) show of brute force, laced with ego and pandering to a predictable base, the USA unilaterally decided to bomb Iran. Thus inherently threatening to drag allies into a war we had no knowledge of and/or no interest in.

It seemed World War III was definitely upon us, with Russia, China and Iran on one hand, and the NATO forces on the other.

(Dual citizens began dusting up passports, in readiness to run back to home countries least involved in this impending blow-up)

Then Australia went up in what seemed like an unending inferno. What started as ‘casual’ bush fires, gradually escalated into months long events, chasing animals out of their habitats, and claiming the lives of brave firemen.

While we were still grappling with whether the wrong button had been pressed for 2020, the world was hit with the heartbreaking death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter.

One may argue that Kobe’s death is no world-ending event. But there is need to understand, that for a lot of us - in the US and beyond - Kobe was the ultimate larger-then-life figure. For folks like me who were part of varsity basket-ball teams, Kobe – along with Shaquille, and MJ – symbolised play styles, and inspired heights to aspire to.

Kobe’s death definitely reverberated around the world, plunging continents into days and weeks of mourning. If nothing else, the end of life – as we know it – suddenly seemed like a moment away. Here one day with family and fans, gone the next in a matter of seconds.

In the background of all of this crazy, there had been reports filtering in through social and regular media, of a weird illness growing in some part of China, where people were (literally) beginning to drop dead (or in a faint) on the streets.

But it seemed so far, far away. As at January.

(Laughs in dark humour. We had absolutely NO idea)

I am not sure exactly when the reality of this strange virus seriously began hitting the world. Maybe it was about that time that the death toll jumped from about 97 people, to 1000 or more people, within a space of hours.

As if that was not scary enough, suddenly, people were becoming infected with this ailment in Iran, and beginning to die.

(Wait… this virus could move across continents *bawls in banshee howls*)

Fam, I think that is when sh*t hit really hit the fan, and like a people out of a trance, suddenly, the world snapped out of the indifference.

Global concern began building, even as the virus developed stronger wings and built a solid base in Italy. In no time, the world watched as infection and death rates rapidly climbed up.

Then France. And Spain. The United Kingdom. The USA. Even dearly beloved Canada.

Responses by world leaders and citizens were uncoordinated.

Should we be afraid? Not afraid? Should this be declared pandemic? Not pandemic? Was this a human-engineered virus? Would the dead arise, in true Walking Dead fashion, and eat the rest of us?

Was this the end of this world, in readiness for purifying the earth for its next inhabitants?? Would we be a part of some macabre history lesson eons later, on how a previous world order was completely wiped off, in relatively quick succession to the generation of dinosaurs?

While countries like Canada saw their leaders beginning to grasp the reality of the situation and address the people head-on on the need to begin to take precaution, the once police-chief of the world – the USA – dilly-dallied in its response. One minute “very soon, only five people will be left infected… it will disappear like a miracle”. The next minute “this thing will likely be around, till about August… it has blindsided us”.

It did not help that like every other important issue in the past couple of years, the fast-spreading virus became another bickering point between its two major parties, thereby stealing precious moments that would have been seized to rising to the occasion.

(*hisses in African grandmother voice*)

Meanwhile, somewhere in the most populous country in Africa, the Head of State has been MIA on the virus, even as concerns and discovered cases are fast increasing. While a fund has been hastily released, and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control releasing regular Twitter updates on activities being taken to contain the virus, every other thing seemed to suggest that the default plan by the country for the virus is = Na God Hand We Dey. 


The world watched in horror as the virus continued its inter-territorial reign of havoc, even as scientists suddenly became obsessed with one nagging question:

How was the Motherland not (yet) overflowing with infections and deaths from the Corona virus?

(*Laughs again, in dark humour*)

I understand the confusion. Africa has been touted as the poverty-central of the world. Most of the pictures the western media propagates are often big-bellied, rib-showing, hunger-stricken, HIV-ravaged children, raising their arms in solicitation for alms, and one morsel of food away from death.

While a lot of these stories and their accompanying pictures may be a tad bit embellished, to assuage self-satisfying virtue-signalling, truth is that many African nations cannot boast of half the medical facilities that their counterparts in the Western world have. If these counterparts had rapidly increasing deaths from this dastardly virus, how were the African nations staying uninfected from the virus??

Many ascribed this seeming ‘immunity’ of Africa to the virus to varying reasons, ranging from the boiling climate temperatures of the region, to the blood of Jesus. 

The reality however is far less extraordinary than the Western World realises. It is a First-World privilege to just wake up in the morning, pack a bag pack and announce to family “I’m taking a trip to Europe for a year. Tada”.

Asides the fact that a lot of families in Africa live below poverty lines that can barely enable daily survival, little less traipsing round the world, there are visa restrictions on most African citizens, which ensure that Africans do not have the ease or luxury of moving around from continent to continent, thereby, constituting human carriers for the virus.

(Talk about an ironical ‘blessing’ in disguise)

And true enough, the cases of the virus which began to trickle into Africa at first were either foreigners (or returnee citizens from foreign trips): an Italian in Nigeria, a German in Egypt, a Japanese in Ethiopia.

While the rates of infections and deaths in Africa have not exploded exponentially as the rest of the world, the most of us have hands clasped in prayer, fully aware that the continent truly does not have the facilities for this. If ever there was a time, this is the time for all the competing gods and ancestors of the continent to put superiority skirmishes aside, and pour blessings all over the land. Slowly increasing cases are proving that if care is not taken, it is only a matter of time before Africa joins the rest of the world in the pandemonium facing it.

In the meantime, and in a weird twist of fate, African countries have been at the forefront of placing outright bans or mandatory quarantines on travelers coming into the countries. Countries like Uganda are not smiling, and wasted no time in deporting visitors, who refused to be quarantined for 14 days.

(The nerve!)

One may view it as some smug sort of pay-back, for how the rest of the world ‘quietly’ ostracised Africa, in the wake of the Ebola virus. I see it as simple common-sense.

Whether or not this turns out to be truly effective in controlling the spread of virus however, time will tell.

***

But you know how it is often said that the worst of times show the true nature of humans?

In the midst of rising infections, people across the (Western?) world devolved into the worst form of panic-buying ever. Shelves were cleared of food, baby formula, even sanitary towels.

The one I will NEVER comprehend however is the panic-buying of and rush for tissue rolls. Stores have had to put notices, limiting the number of packs a customer can buy, in the wake of people buying truckloads of tissue rolls.

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Wait… are these folks expecting to crap their way out of this pandemic? Errrmmm… has no one told them the alternative of H2O, in the event tissue rolls suddenly stop being produced?

Meanwhile, in the United States, a different kind of panic-buying is going on. People are purchasing guns in droves. The surge for the purchase of guns have gone up by 68%.

Image result for panic buying of guns corona

I am not sure if the people hope to shoot the virus to death, or turn on each other for supplies. Suffice to say, I have never been happier to not be resident on the south side of the border.

In all of this, the greatest heroes remain the front-line war generals: the medical personnel who cannot “work from home” like the rest of us, or stay isolated behind the cover of a laptop. The ones who cannot afford to “stay six feet away from others”.

The doctors, the nurses, the lab technicians, the nursing assistants, pharmacists, janitors, cleaners, and every person somewhat involved in ensuring medical services continue to be delivered, unhindered.

There are also the cashiers at the grocery and retail stores, delivery drivers, folks who mostly earn minimum wage. Yet, are daily exposed to possible exposure and are at the frontline of this battle.

Not to forget the scientists, staying awake and working away furiously even as I type, conducting test after test after test, to find a viable vaccine, or cure (or both) for this virus.

And then… there is Trevor Noah.

If you have been an ardent follower of this blog (which you should be), you know Trevor is a huge muse to my writing. And he has not failed in this period. Often striking just the right balance, between keeping us filled with enough humour to reduce the tension from all the Corona news flying around, while passing serious messages on the need for social distancing and other precautions.


As a race, we have survived the Spanish Flu, two World Wars, and multiple financial crises. Corona Virus IS beatable.

A lot of buck however lies at the table of the various leaders, to whom the people look up. The greatest undoing will be half or non-truths. This is the time to be absolutely honest with the masses on realities on ground, while providing highest assurances and inspiring courage.

Lack of sufficient information from China led to precious weeks lost in preparation, by other countries. Lack of awareness may be cited as the singular difference between South Korea and Italy.

To this extent I say: wash your hands, frequently and vigorously. Stay away from clusters of people, as much as is possible. Practice social distancing, all the while using technology to achieve work goals and stay in touch with loved ones. Practice social distancing as much as possible. If not for yourself, for the more vulnerable among us: seniors and those with underlying ailments.

For those self-isolating like me, keep up digital connections, as much as possible. Especially if you live alone. So that you do not resort to conversations with the wall-gecko, for want of human connection.

Being the gnostic that I am, my favourite verse in the good book comes to mind at a time like this:

This Too Shall Pass.

Please stay safe.

Paz,

Meg.

P.s: I know you would love to ask me: Are you back now??

I don’t know. Let’s watch and see.  




Photo-Credits
1. www.marketwatch.com (via Getty images)
2. www.gulfnews.com 
3. www.abcnews.com 




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4 comments

  1. Sad to say welcome back based on this situation. But welcome all the same.
    This is one thing that even in my talkative element, I've lost my voice. I would just encourage people to not panic. #socialdistancing, up your hygiene game(if you have not been a hand sanitizer user before), just stay safe.

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  2. There couldn't have been a better comeback.👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 Welcome back Schinnel (I hope)🤔

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  3. I thoroughly enjoyed how you chronologised the events of 2020.

    And yes, Kobe's death was a major event, a sad one.

    Canada was affected so closely that even their first lady contracted this virus. I hope she's recovered.

    I picture this virus as a demon with horns that's intent on creating divisions, mistrust, death and all things evil. Of course it's a virus and not a demon but this is the picture I've in my head when that name, COVID-19 pops up.

    This virus would change the world as we know it and it's effects would last for ages to come.

    Nigeria!

    The situation here seems to be getting dire. And anyone that knows this country would know that Nigeria cannot handle a pandemic.

    We lack the facilities to handle a massive outbreak. We could argue that places like Lagos are prepared but.... Lagos is only a state in Nigeria.

    What else do I want to write about? I'm soo happy to see you in this space.

    Welcome back Meg and hope to read more from you. This article is beautiful.

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