By Kole Omotoso
Everybody says that this also shall pass. This being the pandemic Coronavirus. After 2000 years of the new era, and numerous occasions of worse pandemics, it is obvious that this also shall pass in the tone of once upon a time. But how long will it last? Will there be a second wave? How long would such a second wave last? A lot of uncertainties but this also shall pass.
Take the Economists 2020, the iconic annual publication which foretells the future, and a highly sought reading material by all and sundry especially economists. After all, a century or so of capitalist practice has made the future of economic life predictable. Virtually every possible version of the market economy has been manifested for theoreticians of capitalism to rest assured that capitalism has finished history. Will the experience of Coronavirus 2020 stop the Economist publishing such shallow predictions in the future?
This week, there have appeared in Italy, Spain and Britain, lower figures of infection and fatalities. As one of the authorities in these jurisdictions warned there was no reason to rejoice yet. The figures would have to be lower and lower over a period of days before they could be accepted as indications of a farewell to the Coronavirus.
One person who is in a hurry to unlock the lockdown even if his scientists insist that the virus must run its course is the president of the United States of America Donald Trump. He wants to get his people back to work, his people are anxious to get back to work, he sees a light at the end of the tunnel. He further insists that he is not a doctor but the medicine for malaria is a cure for the virus even if this has not been so declared by the bodies that pronounce on such things. When Mr. Trump tested negative to the virus he reports that the doctors were so amazed! They had never seen such a negative test; it was so negative it made other negatives look so un-negative!
In fact, Mr. Trump must assume the positive arm of the virus. While he was dismissive of its longevity, he knew everything about the virus to the surprise of his doctors and scientific advisers. They were so surprised that he knew so much about the virus more than the virus knew about itself!
Today the virus is in every country of the world. The World Health Organisation has led the world in how to deal with the virus, cooperating across borders. But no, countries have preferred to organise their own defenses against an enemy who did not recognise boundaries and borders.
In spite of themselves, medical personnel began to fly from Cuba to Italy to give help to the people of Italy, Chinese medical materials move the United States of America and Spain is encouraging the European Union to organise a Marshall Plan for Europe.
In order to curb the spread of the virus, the WHO suggests a total lockdown, complete stoppage of movement across the world. In Africa and some parts of Asia, those caught no obeying the lockdown were flogged, made to do the frog dance or made to swim in the filthy gutter. In a dramatic change of sequence, an okada rider gave a soldier who was busy applying the corrective of caning to the rider and his two passengers gave the soldier a heavy right-handed dirty blow to his jaw and ran into the neighbourhood with the soldier, rifle in hand, pursuing. Nobody knows why the soldier did not shoot the okada rider.
In a few countries of the world, the government cannot order the citizens to lock themselves down in their houses, according to the constitution. The government could politely ask the citizens to go on lockdown in order to curb the spread of the virus. These countries include Sweden and Japan.
Talking of Africa, something is intriguing about Africa situation vis-a-vis the Coronavirus. First of all, given the fact that most African countries do not have health care systems to speak about, there is the fear that Coronavirus would kill most Africans infected. That’s not the only reason. The other reason is that they live cheek to jowl. If the virus touches one person it would touch thousands before the end of the day. Yet, the numbers of infection, the numbers testing positive and the numbers dying are, to say the least unimpressive. Why is this so?
There are many reasons offered to explain this situation. There is the fact that Africa, unlike Italy or Japan does not have most of its population in the 70s and above, the people most targeted by the virus.
Another reason is that there is no proper testing mechanism to show up who is affected and who is not. All other reasons are not worth mentioning until the virus has passed into history and we can say what is right and what is wrong.
Some of the inhabitants of the city slums believe that Coronavirus is for rich people who fly to the UK and the USA where they collect the virus. Some of these people also believe that tropical heat frightens the virus. There is no scientific basis for this. While it is true that some virus might shy away from heat, Coronavirus is new, has not passed through summer to see how it does in the heat.
Technology has had a field day in this age of lockdown. WhatsApp video calls, Skype and Zoom have been having such fun. The most impressive technology is the robots who deliver medications inwards where medical personnel would be exposed to deadly diseases.
These robots also serve as messengers between patients and doctors.
What happens when this also passes away? Would we return to the world before the virus? Or would we find working from home more fun? Factory workers and those whose place of work is specific to their work can go out while the rest of us work from home.
There is no doubt that the victims of domestic violence, something that increased tenfold, twenty-fold during the lockdown, would be relieved to see the back of Coronavirus.