As a ‘typical’ Nigerian, my initial reaction to the COVID-19 news was complacency; that the situation was being exaggerated and that it will not be mine/my loved ones’ portion – lol 🙂
In the past few days, with the situation now a pandemic, I have applied myself to some research and conversation around the topic and I just want to share a few points:
First, COVID-19 is real, and it is amongst us.
Viruses are not strange occurrences. In the world today, there are number of viral infections and COVID-19 is just one of them. With COVID-19 however, this is a new strain and as such there is no known vaccine/treatment for it. There is a lot of work ongoing by different research companies to develop vaccines/ treatments to combat the virus, but this is going to take some time (at least a few months). In the meantime, this is a reality we all need to deal with.
It is important to know that evidence has shown that the COVID-19 virus is not only transmitted by physical contact with infected people or surfaces; it is also airborne and can travel a couple of meters within space. Simply put, if you are in the same room with someone infected with COVID-19, just by the exchange of air (breathing in & out), there is a high chance you will contract the virus. Therefore, whilst it is important to wash your hands frequently and sanitize, SOCIAL DISTANCING is key.
‘Social distancing’ practices simply mean curtailing social contact with a view to delay transmission and reducing the size of an outbreak.
Today, there is a threshold number of patients our healthcare facilities can treat at a time ; for example, say we have the capacity to treat 100 people at a time in Nigeria; that means we need to ensure that not more than 100 people are critically ill with COVID-19 at a time.
Now, if someone with the virus (with or without symptoms) attends a wedding with 1,000 people and another person with the virus goes to a crusade of 10,000 people the next day, the virus starts to spread uncontrollably and as a result we will have more cases than can be attended to. What social distancing does is to ensure we reduce face to face interactions thereby reducing the spread of the virus to a manageable rate i.e. flattening the curve.
Most people who get the virus will come out of it, however there are some people with higher risks of developing critical complications as a result of the virus, this includes older adults (8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years old and older) , people who have underlying medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer) & people who have a compromised immune system from a medical condition or treatment .
In essence, whilst as a healthy young adult, you may get the virus and be okay as your immune system can fight it, you can transfer it to someone in the above category who will experience more complications with the virus; hence the importance of social distancing. Social distancing is not just for you, it is also and most importantly for the ‘vulnerable’ population you may come in contact with.
Whilst there are some situations you cannot control e.g. going to work (if your company does not allow you work from home), going to the grocery store etc. it is very prudent to think twice before attending that ‘owambe’, taking a domestic/international flight or going to any social gathering at this time as it is not just about you, but the population at large. If you have to be in a room full of people, as much as possible, try to keep a safe distance between you and the next person (at least 6ft.)
Besides the science of it all, I believe there is lesson for the whole world at this time; there is only so much we can control and now more than ever, we need to acknowledge the existence of a supreme power.
My friend, Koye, wrote a very insightful piece on ‘How to thrive at life and work in the age of COVID-19’ https://www.koyegbeke.com/2020/03/how-to-thrive-at-life-and-work-in-age.html which was very helpful for me, I will recommend you read it.
Please remember to put in your prayers the health workers, people who are sick, vulnerable, our country and the world at large as we go through this phase.
I look forward to reading your comments on what you are/will be doing differently, your thoughts and insights on the COVID-19 situation.
Stay safe people! Wash your hands and practice social distancing 🙂