09.04.2020 Feature Article

COVID-19: When Breath Becomes An Essential Commodity

COVID-19: When Breath Becomes An Essential Commodity
LISTEN APR 9, 2020

We are not in normal times! This statement has been echoing from the four corners of the earth continuously for the past three months more like a verse in a national anthem being sung at an ongoing Olympics.

This is the extent to which the outbreak of this novel coronavirus or COVID – 19 has couched new phrases and words into our daily vocabularies.

While history abounds with records of hundreds of thousands of deaths from global pandemics, for the young generation of this 21st century as much as those who were born after the second half of the last century, the outbreak COVID – 19 is a catastrophe of their lifetime which should be wished away within the shortest possible time. Indeed, that is the prayer of everyone – that the spread of COVID – 19 recedes and the disease exterminated.

Irrespective of the conspiracy theories on the possible cause of this virus, one thing is clear – human life is precious and the ability to breath, a freebie from God, has become the single most important resource that the world is earnestly chasing after. When the history of the world is being written for the future generations, may it be emphasized that if free breath were a sellable commodity, individuals, families, clans, tribes, counties, countries, continents and the world at large would have stopped at nothing to acquire, religiously preserve and protect it with all their strength and with their might.

But alas! We are talking about a strain of a disease that is no respecter of persons and whose fatality has hit both the strong and the weak, the nimble-footed and the sluggish, the rich and the poor, the affluent and the impoverished, the celebrity and the nonentity, the old and the young, rulers and the ruled, the articulate and the voiceless, and the tall and the short. In the race against death, titles do not matter nor do social status. And what about categorization of countries by their level of development - the developed world and the undeveloped world? None matter!

Much literature has been generated on COVID – 19, making it arguably the most topical issue in the world now and in the foreseeable future. One only belabors himself to emphasize as a constant reminder that we are not in normal times. The severity of the disease is reflected in the follow statistics: as of 9 April 2020, the number of infected persons in the United States of America only, which stood at over 435,000 was more that the total number of all persons in the world who had recovered from the disease (330,589). China, the initial epicenter of the disease with 81,865 recorded infections trailed USA, Spain (148, 220), Italy 139,422), Germany (113,296) and France (112,950) in the highest number of recorded cases in descending order.

As the world scutters for a cure, the world’s US dollar billionaires - Jack Ma (Alibaba), Bill Gates (Gates Foundation), Jack Dosrsey (Twitter), Michael Bloomberg (Bloomberg), Keith Rupert Murdoch (Wall Street Journal), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) etc.- are all doling out figures in their six to nine zeros to join a relentless effort to preserve the sanctity of the human life.

The trail COVID - 19 is leaving behind is enigmatic. No country has been spared, and even repressive regimes which do not churn out statistics, as well as those which do not have effective public health systems in place, have all fallen victims of this pandemic. Both rich and poor countries are forced to provide social safety nets for their citizens.

On the flip side of life, humans are being caged while animals are walking about freely. Cities have become ghost towns, and city malls and markets have ceded their positions as business centres to cemeteries. Bereaved families are denied corpses of the departed for burial. People living in slums are more susceptible to fatalities under lockdowns, while staying with an abuser is a recipe for an escalation of domestic violence.

Indeed, the world order has changed, and the world will never be the same after its recovery from this pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated a prevailing world order. But is COVID – 19 predominantly a blow to the world or a blessing in disguise? Human life matters and none makes a mockery where death reigns.

Like electricity, COVID – 19 has been a good teacher of life’s lessons but a bad servant as well. The pandemic has exposed how unprepared the world is in the face of any major catastrophe. Wealth becomes a worthless collection of acquisitions where life cannot be preserved. Internet usage has broken barriers to the brink of near collapse through oversubscription and overuse. However, as a teacher, COVID – 19 has all of a sudden taught the world to learn and practice personal hygiene. Indeed, the awareness on personal hygiene created by COVID – 19 is unprecedented. Families have tended to bond together during this period of the crises for their safety and security. With schools locked down in many countries, parents have suddenly become domestic teachers of their wards in pre-tertiary schools. They may, by now, have realized the arduous task on teachers in whom they place the education of their wards.

For the religious minded, COVID – 19 is seen as one of the means that God allows to happen to draw mankind closer to Him. Italy gave up and cried to the Almighty God after its best brains and wisdom in the scientific field could not find a solution to the astonishing streaks of deaths of infected persons. To date, Italy has the highest number of deaths in percentage and absolute figures. The United States of America and other countries that generally declare their faith in an unseen God have all declared national days of prayer for redemption. Indeed, there is no God like Jehovah and IN HIM WE TRUST for redemption from this calamity.

By Ransford Bekoe, Educationeering Disciple Of Emeritus Prof. PAI Obanya


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