“We got the whole world, in our hands.”
OK. Let’s be honest. No one saw this coming. No one could have seen this coming. Not even the porn watchers who make it to the end. Not one person saw the untimely passing of the all-time great basketballer, Kobe Bean Bryant – RIP Kobe – with his daughter Gigi Bryant, nor the assassination of Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani sparking unrest between Iran and Trump and possibly a war of worlds as provoked by the latter (actually this was seeable), nor the global pandemic shutting down entire systems within a span of weeks. Any of these would headline any year for a couple of months at least but it seems every month is trying to outdo the previous. It’s only March! Makes you wonder what April has in store for us around the bend. We watched weekend football take a leave, the Olympics postponed, and EURO 2020 renamed EURO 2021 without so much as a petition to name a few public safety measures. The matches played prior to imposed lockdowns saw games hosted in empty stadia, a real sight to behold but a sad one at that. With directives to stay home and only move if necessary, many found themselves engaging their artistic egos to pass time and social network has been the medium through which we have witnessed this art alongside human togetherness. Good thing Covid wouldn’t know how to get on that, so maybe it’s not all negatives. For the not so positive outcomes however, it might be hard for them to make for better pictures.
Let’s talk COVID-19; the virus that has brought the world to its knees and threatens to plunge it into a dystopian fate. A viral strain with its origins in Wuhan, China, it targets the respiratory tract and is especially fatal to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. Its discovery in late December 2019 did not receive much coverage on media streams but has since found its way to international platforms ‘thanks’ to the numbers associated with it; 446,500 confirmed cases and 19,800 deaths at the time of writing this. However, 112,000 cases have been reported to have fully recovered. Coupled with the fact that China has been doing remarkably well containing the cases, – South Korea too but, differently – it’s clear there are positives. Light is streaming in through the porous tunnel. Yes Covid, we see the cracks. Italy has been particularly hard hit and is, and for some time now, has been the epicenter of the outbreak with numbers rising every other day. Spain and the United States of America are the two nations with a subsequently rampant spread of the virus. Notably, these nations together with Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Norway, China, Indonesia, New Zealand, and until recently India and the United Kingdom (among others) have gone into lockdown looking to control social interaction among its denizen with the aim of controlling the spread. African states have in comparison much less cases, but with a shortage of testing kits, close approximations are yet to be established.
The World Health Organization (WHO?) The World Health Organization declared the virus a global pandemic on March 11, 2020 after indications of accelerated spread and increased severity of the outbreak. Following this, sensitization on the matter has been a major priority to avoid as much misinformation as possible. Social media networks in particular have provided a large platform through which much of this has been achieved, educating the masses on the need-to-knows to take home (and stay with):
- Wash your hands.
- Stay at home.
- Avoid crowded places.
- If out in the open, observe social distancing to minimize interaction as much as possible.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and/or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cough or sneeze into tissues or if unavailable, coughing/sneezing into the elbow can do.
All in all practicing good respiratory health practices should suffice to keep you protected.
If you suspect having symptoms characteristic of the infection, assistance can be sought through the following channels:
- calling the toll-free number 719 or 0800721316
- texting *719# to access important information via USSD
This is applicable to Kenyan citizens.
What are these symptoms to keep an eye out for? Basically, flu-like symptoms such as fever, coughing, sneezing, sore throats, headaches and breathing difficulties are signs that one may have contracted the infection. These can however range anywhere from mild to severe, and may not begin to show until after 5 days in some cases. Anyone experiencing the aforementioned, however mild, or a complete absence of these, can still transmit the virus hence the desperate need to distance from the general public. Governments are attempting to control social interaction by putting in place various critical measures purposed to mitigate the very present risk of facing national crises. For instance, the GOK has imposed a curfew from 7pm through to 5am for all persons within the country, a carrying capacity for public service vehicles ferrying passengers, mandatory checks in public spaces, spearheaded the Nyumba-Kumi initiative for neighbourly accountability, and suspended international flights streaming in and out of the country to name a few. In addition, tax breaks and reduction on selected income streams have been enforced to make the status quo bearable for the common (wo)man. A lot can still be done to look out for those at the grassroots, but this is a step in the right direction.
As individuals, the best we can really do is comply with any directives set for the greater good, and learn from countries that have had to bear the brunt. It’s a global pandemic, and we are a global village – we’re in this together. If we look out for each other in the small ways as much as the big ways, like simply staying the freak home and not being selfish to the greater cause, we’ll be out of this in a matter of time. So? Stay at home. Watch over yourself. Watch over your family. Report suspicious cases. And above all take care. We got this. We’ll make it to the end of this movie and see how it finishes. Then we’ll sanitize. ‘Cause right now, at this very moment, we’ve got the world in our hands. Keep safe.