Friday, March 27, 2020. 7:10 pm local time. Impulses flow through this little brain, down through some tiny phalanges to the pads of an electric device. Date back a few months, a few weeks, a couple of days…wait!!! Stop there! Wednesday, January 1st, 2020. Any memories of this while? Take a step further. Not too fast. Slowly. Yeah! Just there. Tuesday, December 31st, 2019.
Exactly where we would want to start all of this from. What was this day like? Was it the time to sit back and reflect on how quick and swift the year had passed? To assess the fun and times of flop? Was it the day to put all the awful behind and hope for an awesome? Didn’t it look like the beginning of a new era? Of blossom devoid of blur? I remember so well watching MultiChoice recount the end to a decade of football on its supersport channel. The Epic of Leicester City Football Club winning a league title in 2016 with Jamie Vardy scoring in Eleven consecutive league games to break the premier league record. The death of Osama Bin Laden, The issues of Brexit. Ghana’s Male National football teams, the black stars’, “histo-dramatic” quarter final exit from the world cup against Luis Suárez’s’ Uruguay? The Ebola outbreak in Congo in 2014. The Terrorism of Paris. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle royal wedding. Retirement of Usain Bolt. Real Madrid Winning the Champions league Back to Back. The Xenophobic Uproar in South Africa. Donald Trump’s election to Presidency in the US. The end of the MDGs and the roll out of SDGs. The counts run endless.
All looks and seems set for yet a breathtaking and roller-coaster ride through another decade. It couldn’t have been anything but the much anticipated “year 2020”. For some reason the uncertainty about this year seemed akin to that of the year 20 years prior – when astrological news had it that some big rock was going to fall on and destroy the whole world. Men lived everyday in waiting for a foretold death. Having been met with the unpalatable death of Kobby Bryant and the other 12 on-board seemed just a bitter start.
Now let’s go back where we came from. Almost 2088 hours after (December 31st), entry into this new decade, some believe the year shouldn’t have started in the first place. What started as a point source infection at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, has gradually sneaked its way to the top of every news item in the world. The most popular word of this decade yet remains “coronavirus”. A pneumonia-like acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by the novel SARS-COV 2 virus. A virus whose identity required total genomic testing to reveal how unlike any other virus it was.
Does it carry popularity and fame about for no reason? I’m sure to most people in the world who have heard of the condition, Covid-19 resounds only two odds – Death with its scare and fear with its terror. Yeah… the numbers a sky-rocketing by the day and it seems we hear of deaths from this every second and any time we flip another side of the globe. Well…our world is in turmoil. We have become stationary. Things are halting and many countries are coming to a standstill. The greatest thing we have to know is, we have survived more treacherous times – the floods of Noah’s, the fires of Sodom, the Egyptian plaques, SARS of 2002, H1N1, MERS of 2012, Ebola of 2014, Civil wars in Africa, earthquakes and landslides in Asia, our self-destructive terrorism, Xenophobia. What else deserves mention?
In times of infectious outbreak, the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) which is a measure of cases who die from that condition/infection – which indicates the severity of the condition – holds a lot to be considered. It must be said that CFR depends on a couple of factors like social/health interventions instituted to curb the very condition, availability of diagnostic methods etc. Previous infectious outbreaks recorded the following CFRs at their peak, Plague (Yersinia pestis, 1347): 50%, Small pox (Variola virus, 1775 – 1782): 30%, Cholera (Vibrio Cholerae, Periodic outbreaks): 10%. It is worthy to note that other viral infectious outbreak like MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, 2012) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – 2002) which belong to the same family of coronaviruses as the SARS-COV 2 virus which causes COVID-19, had CFRs of 10% and 37% respectively. As at 10:00am local time, 28th March 2020, there had been 602622 confirmed cases globally with a death toll of 27889 according to the John Hopkins Centre for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE). This puts the global CFR at 4.6%. Local CFRs may defer.
A bit away from the statistics, as deleterious as it has been on health systems and health globally, the socioeconomic adjustments and impacts stand to be mentioned. Many countries have instituted closure of borders, ban on mass social gatherings with closure of schools, churches, markets, cinemas, mosques, sporting activities – inhibiting people’s right to free movement. The rippling effects of these goes to enforce the dilemma of choosing the greatest evil to the greatest good for the greater number of people. Growth of economies will be retarded, international productivity along with local gross domestic products will dwindle. Every nation is now seeking to use its limited available resources to secure the best for its citizens before attending to the needs of others – the best thing to do in such times. Prices of commodities have soared high due to demand on such for survival. And what this is leading to is something incredibly amazing. Every country would now have to look within for help. To produce enough to sustain itself. Ghanaians have really responded well to the shortage of hand sanitizers and what seemed like we not produce looks a thing of the past.
On the reverse side of the negatives, a number of good things are happening. The greatest of such is the turn of human attention to a greater deity. To God. We have realized how limited we are and how feeble we are and have made a call once again to the LORD most high – with countries declaring days of nationwide prayer and fasts. Individuals have revived their prayer lives and their connections to God. Maybe not only on the account of protection but for the sure possibility that this could be the end of it all. As well, we have realized how we depend one on another for our sustenance. Not only do you have to follow protocols but you must ensure your neighbor does so to keep you at perfect peace. Haven’t we bonded much better with families in the past few days?
Environmental pollution has realized a drastic reduction. Air pollution has significantly decreased over China amid the economic slowdown caused by Covid-19. NASA images show Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels went down drastically after the mandatory lockdowns in China. Personal hygiene has become something of prime importance in such times and should Covid-19 persist for a while it would only sound reasonable that etiquettes like periodic hand washing, application of sanitizers, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing would become second nature of many. Others have adopted frequent exercise regimes even right in their houses and other good eating habits stemmed at building a good enough immune system to surmount such times.
With not so much to do indoors, many are becoming voracious readers, critical thinkers, knowledge seekers. Would it be a wonder to find that when the dark clouds turn blue eventually, great entrepreneurs will spring up across the globe?
Maybe we are burdened so much with thinking about how we will get past this period. Living every day in expectation of that faithful day when the WHO would deem Covid-19 no longer a PHEIC – Public Health Emergency of International Concern – and that your very province is Covid-19 free. This should not blur our view and sight on the fact that there would be life after this while. That life should be better, way better than what we’ve experienced in the past. In the after days of Covid-19, how do you think life would or should be?
To me it should be one where people would become more prayerful, more God centered, more imbibed in the will of God, more human and less selfish, solution based thinkers, prolific readers, environmental and human hygiene activist, health conscious, less stupid, more law abiding, patriotic, affectionate, given to love and kindness than greed. Where people would be sensitive to issues of concern to human survival and not be opportunistic organisms looking for the weak to devour. The greatest being that the African continent would not only leave matters to fate but take issues by the horn to address the longstanding issue of the fundamental codes and systems of living being weak. Our health systems should be re-strategized, reconstructed, refurbished, revamped and revitalized. Not that we would be willing to write in press releases that our health system is inadequate to handle an outbreak and leave it there.
The world at large should realize that what happens to the Shark in the Antarctic Ocean should be of concern to the Giraffe of the Sahara.
God bless us all, take away this plight, fill us with joy and leave us better people after this brief.