The second phase of the pandemic is now over. The early stages was dominated by shock, fear, anger as the virus ravaged almost effortlessly from China, Middle East then delivered deadly blows to Europe and North America.
The use of the word “deadly blows” may not even be appropriate. In 1918, the Spanish flu, the last comparable flu event, in some parts of the world, one third of the population died in afflicted areas.
The final toll comparatively for Covid-19 is quite high and the impact of its carnage on established countries like Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom was significantly straining medical systems to the hilt.
A few unusual happenings, as the British Prime Minister and a number of other senior government officials registered infections and up to now, Boris Johnson, is in convalescence at Chequers, his official upcountry residence after a few days in a High Dependency Unit of the ICU.
In the United States, the head of the Infectious Diseases Institute, Anthony Fauci, tried to put a calming face on the pandemic before announcing last week that tough times were coming.
And the death toll both in the United States and the United Kingdom hovered around 1,000 victims a day.
China reported a different problem, persons reporting a second infection even though news from China is often kept under a tight lid for sometime before it is released to the public. Even China with its tight lid on information is finding it’s not as easy to keep such a lid in the information age. A few interesting pieces of information came out from its cellular technology network.
First is that every Chinese can be physically tracked all over the country, which isn’t unusual, but subscribers’ movement, interaction with other subscribers can be collated using a number of tools without necessitating physical contact with the subscriber identity module.
China is likely to have interesting data on human behaviour, a chance Western countries did not have as they battled the first wave of infections and fatalities.
Some countries were singled out for managing the situations. New Zealand, Germany, France, and Canada, but most of these countries already have robust healthcare system. A massive public campaign advertising people to stay home over the Easter holiday was quite successful.
Even the reluctant US Governors were willing to add more measures as their states could not do much about the infections in their states, but they could do something about new cases.
In the third world, which is a rather big expanse covering India, most of Africa, and Latin America, tales of extreme misery and stories of the populations having to walk incredible distances up to 400km in a big country like India on foot were appalling.
India does not have record infections or deaths partly a function of a healthier diet, less meat, etc. Neighbours Pakistan are also reporting lower meat consumption because of the cost of beef, which is out of reach of many families, who have resorted to chopped vegetables.
In Africa, home to some of the globe’s poorest communities, governments distributed free foodstuffs - maize meal, beans and milk. Relief milk is something government should think about storing better as dairy farmers have had a rough time in countries like Uganda, whose neighbours like Kenya, have slapped a 10 per cent levy on imports, longer inspection lines to protect their own higher cost domestic producers.
Uganda is labelled a low-cost producer because it does not have a transparent wage policy unlike Kenya, whose diary sector is fully monetised. No milk is moving from Kenya to Ugandan supermarket coolers.
Kenya’s approach to use digital cash (Mobile Money) may have saved more resources, Kenya is a big country. The internet has been awash with incredible posts of fake news, leaders are frustrated but they have to step up.
Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-at-Law and an Advocate.