Going Back To Normal

The push for things to go back to normal means there will be no time to show empathy for the many whose lives are suddenly being turned upside down.

Nigeria's COVID-19 positive cases up to 10,162 / Photo credit: qz.com
Nigeria's COVID-19 positive cases up to 10,162 / Photo credit: qz.com

For over a week now, close to 100 new cases or more of COVID-19 are reported in Lagos every day.

The state now has more than 3,500 cases.

Though not every state in Nigeria is reporting the number of fatalities from the coronavirus and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in its daily update doesn’t say where the deaths are taking place, officially however, Lagos is reporting more deaths from the pandemic than any other state.

Lagos State officials have openly said that because of the rising number of cases, they are running out of bed space.

In response, they decided on certain measures including treating mild cases at home and releasing hospitalised patients after they test negative once.

Other than that, you wouldn’t know that the state is planning for more cases than it has the capacity to handle because of its eagerness to reopen its economy, get businesses going and the airport running again.

Yet, the state health commissioner, Akin Abayomi, projects there will be more than 100,000 more cases of COVID-19 within the next month or two.

That could mean a thousand more deaths at a one per cent fatality rate.

And in about a week from now, the federal government will likely give the green light for the full reopening of the economy.

That too will mean the rate of infections could rise, changing earlier projections made of Prof. Abayomi.

Obviously, it is a price the state government is willing to pay.

In just a matter of weeks, more than half of the professional football leagues in Europe would resume the suspended 2019/2020 season.

And half the world would be watching.

Countries like France, Netherlands, Belgium and Scotland ended their leagues seasons prematurely.

In just a matter of weeks, more than half of the professional football leagues in Europe would resume the suspended 2019/2020 season

It was an acknowledgement that the health crisis that has gripped the world would last a while.

But where leagues were suspended, players are already back in training.

The German Bundesliga is actually back on track.

In Spain, Italy and UK, play could resume as early as the second week of June.

It is all part of the rush to get things back to normal after the outbreak of COVID-19 in every part of the world that brought all human activities to a virtual standstill.

The fact that sports and the world of entertainment is coming back to life is not an indication that the pandemic has been brought under control.

It is more an expression that governments and corporate entities now believe a few thousand more cases of COVID-19 infections and maybe a rise in the number of deaths is a small price to pay.

Millions of people will get to focus on the thrills and excitements of watching their favorites clubs, while they blank out news of rising cases of COVID-19.

Every year, an estimated 300,000 to 650,000 people in the world die of complications from seasonal influenza.

This year, 2020, the number could be three times that amount.

Initially, at least in the early days of the outbreak, the response of governments was one of panic and a scramble to stop the virus from spreading to communities with vulnerable populations.

Now, all everyone is doing is counting the dead.

Their names, faces and lives don’t matter so much.

It seems the longer the pandemic lingers, the more hearts are hardened to the suffering and pain of the sick.

All around us, people are dying.

Close to 350,000 people have died in the world from the pandemic in the last five months.

And the disease is expected to last many more months, maybe years.

The number of the dead in Africa is just over 3,000.

In Europe, it is 169,000 and 27,000 in Asia.

The dead in the United States of America is now 100, 000.

For the hundreds of millions still living, life goes on.

In fact, while the death toll reached that milestone, the US president was playing golf.

He has, with his actions, been encouraging the entire country to ignore the sick, the dying and the dead.

Life, he insists, needs to get back to normal.

The economy needs to get running again.

Of course, the US Donald Trump, is driven by politics.

He is up for reelection in November.

As much as possible, he needs things to appear normal so as not to take responsibility for all that is going wrong.

Around the world, some 5.5 million people have infected.

The things we don’t say about life in the 21st century is how so very similar and intertwined our lives have become.

The way we eat, sleep and live.

Kano has now inadvertently become a case study on what herd immunity could look like, with the world watching to see the outcome

The things we all watch lead us all down the same road. It is almost like we are living the life of zombies all walking in one direction.

Along the way, nobody notices when one, two, three or more people fall by the sides.

Individually and as a society, everyone seems to want the same things and do the same things.

Even entertainment, learning and social interaction are tailored to mass produce.

That makes manipulating or exploiting fears and vulnerabilities easy for political leaders who know how.

It is almost universally agreed that nothing will be the same again after the pandemic.

Many people’s lives will never be the same because of family or friends lost to COVID-19.

But the push for things to go back to normal means there will be no time to show empathy for the many whose lives are suddenly being turned upside down.

There will be no time to mourn the dead.

This is because of the hundreds that reportedly died in unexplained circumstances in Kano a few weeks ago, there is suspicion that cases in the state are being understated.

And for a long time, the state government refused to acknowledge there was something wrong and that people were dying from a contagion.

The governor in some ways lacked the courage to make unpopular decisions even if his lack of courage led to the loss of lives.

But he wasn’t the only one.

A good number of the population is still in denial about the causes of deaths taking place around them.

It is so bad that President Muhammadu Buhari probably got as much criticism for imposing a lockdown in the state as did Governor Abdullahi Ganduje for his inaction.

It is the governor that has really had his way because the lockdown ordered by the president was never strictly enforced.

Everybody would rather pretend that things were normal.

And in another week, the lockdown could be lifted completely.

When asked why Lagos, is still reporting three to four times more cases than Kano, the health commissioner in Lagos responded that they had set up testing laboratories and structures at least two months earlier than was the case in Kano.

Prof. Abayomi said Lagos also had four times the testing capacity of Kano.

And if you can’t test for cases, you can’t find them.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the cases do not exist in Kano.

Most likely, it just means they are not being discovered and people will continue to die in their homes.

At most, the deaths will be labeled mysterious.

Apparently though, 80 per cent of tests conducted for COVID-19 in the state come back positive.

That says a lot.

Scientists believe that if enough people, maybe as much as 70 per cent of a community are infected with a disease build up a natural immunity response, it ultimately halts the spread of the disease.

Kano has now inadvertently become a case study on what herd immunity could look like, with the world watching to see the outcome.

Written by Shuaib Shuaib

Shuaibu, a former Editor of the LEADERSHIP Newspapers, is based in Abuja.

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