Oh ye naysayers, Covid-19 is real

A health worker (left) collects a swab sample from a child, resident of a containment zone to test for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Kolkata on July 23, 2020. PHOTO | DIBYANGSHU SARKAR | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Too often in Kenya, we deny or dispute something on the simplistic basis that we have no personal experience or don’t know anyone affected.
  • The naysayers will still concoct and spread all kind of escapist tales to minimise the threat posed by coronavirus.

One would have to be living in a cave far away from all human civilisation and means of communication to continue protesting that coronavirus is a hoax.

Too often in Kenya, we deny or dispute something on the simplistic basis that we have no personal experience or don’t know anyone affected.

Let’s face it, there can’t be any one today who can honestly deny having been directly or indirectly touched by the pandemic.

A long time ago, when HIV-Aids was spreading across the world, we acknowledged the malign presence with the slogan ‘not all infected, but all affected’.

The simple meaning was that though not all us had been infected, all of us had been affected by the very fact that we had to care for or at least knew someone who was.

We can definitely say the same about Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019, or Covid-19 in short. We don’t have to be personally infected to feel the impact.

We can see family, relatives, friends, neighbours, workmates, professional colleagues and other persons known to us battling the first major pandemic of the millennium. 

LIVING TESTIMONY

Some could be very close to us, some just acquaintances from various spheres, and others remote public personalities we only see in the media.

All of them are living, breathing human beings that we know have contracted the virus and are under treatment; or have interacted with infected persons and been forced to take tests and go into quarantine. Some may even have lost their lives.

All of them stand as living testimony that corona lurks within. It is no longer some strange disease taking a terrible toll in lands far away. It is not a foreign malady that will not enter our shores as long as we shut our borders and airports.

It is here with us, around every corner, and every person we encounter outside our hermetic spaces must be considered a probable victim and spreader.

When the disease first struck in China, we saw no threat to us from a distant plague. When it spread to Europe and started exacting a terrible toll, we comforted ourselves with the tale that the virus could not take root in the heat of Africa or infect hardy black people.

We closed our eyes to the fact that it also spread in Saudi Arabia and nearby parts of the Middle East that are far much hotter than our continent.

Then from Europe it crossed The Pond to the Americas, and again we preferred to ignore the fact the vast majority of victims and fatalities in the United States, where it hit with a vengeance, were of African stock.

OFFERING PROTECTIONS

o much for the myths about heat and dark skin offering protection. The incredible thing is that there are many amongst us who still clutch at those discredited fairy tales.

The naysayers will still concoct and spread all kind of escapist tales to minimise the threat posed by coronavirus.

A favourite one at present exploits the fact that the virus has not spread in Kenya, and the rest of the continent, as fast as initially projected.

This is held as proof that the threat is overstated, that the government, the media and the healthcare agencies are exaggerating and cooking up scare stories.

While nobody disputes that corona has hit Europe and US badly, many still maintain that Africa is safe. That argument has an eerie echo of US President Donald Trump’s early dismissal of the virus before it gained a foothold on his shores.

Then there are some old and tired arguments dating back to Day One of the pandemic that naysayers still regurgitate.

Those are arguments around the coronavirus mortality rates against the usual killers such as malaria, road accidents, cancer, common influenza (flu), floods, famine, violent conflict and the police.

It’s easy to churn out numbers showing that coronavirus is no worse than the regular killers.

COMMON COLD

However, the stats are misleading because the purposely fail to factor in the exponential growth in coronavirus cases, while the death toll from the other maladies and conditions remain stable.

Another ignored point is that the other killers are not infectious or generally spread as simply as the common cold.

It is only when we acknowledge the facts and stop burying our head in the sand that we will begin to defeat this virus. Unfortunately, those supposed to be leading us in this fight are too often doing the opposite of what they preach.

They pass edicts against public gatherings and then go ahead to hold political meetings and attend large funerals.

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www.gaitho.co.ke

@MachariaGaitho