American actor Wesley Snipes whose antics in movies like Murder at 1600 left a very great impression once said: “Don’t let the Internet rush you. No one is posting their failures.” That was timely in these days of vast, speedy broadband and social media.
When someone going through economic hardship looks at pictures of his friends nicely completed with photoshop announcing successful accomplishments, they will wonder what went wrong with themselves.
Some will feel inadequate and even get depressed. The Internet and social media has democratised the power of sourcing and distributing information. Now everyone with a smart phone is an editor or reporter. They have absolute power to say anything to anyone by forwarding, tagging and sharing.
News has one trait, which when misused, may make it infamous. It sounds better when it is out of the ordinary. When they break it, it gives a kick like the one a marijuana smoker gets from pulling at the end of a joint. No wonder many times news broken on social media is not exactly true because urgency and the need to shock and awe comes before authentication and veracity.
With the deadly coronavirus in our midst, the reverse of Snipes’ comment is true. The Internet is rushing to get us disheartened because most people are quick to post ‘failures’ associated with the coronavirus.
The failures make better news because they increase our fear and insecurity and test our mental strength. It sounds better when they say we are facing an apocalypse like the world has never seen hitherto. They are telling us that the official figures of the infected and the dead are way lower than what is actually on the ground. That people are dying in droves.
That the healthcare system is too weak that it will not cope with the coming storm because the more developed countries are struggling so we shall definitely fail. That measures put in place to keep the people safe are instead hurting them. That criminals are about to eat us as the lockdown begins to hurt them into hunger.
Yes the coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, should be taken seriously because it is highly infectious and spreads rapidly. People are dying and more will get infected.
But that is not the whole story. Other conditions which live with us like malaria, cancer, tuberculosis, HIV/Aids and yes; even hunger kill far more people on a daily basis. But no one reminds us to panic that the world is going to end. Those telling you that it is bad for you to stay at home are ignoring the fact that you are lucky because there are people who don’t have a place they call home and would be grateful to go there.
Besides, the experience of staying indoors has not only brought many closer to their families, but has saved them the money they spend eating and drinking out. It has given them security from criminals, who take advantage of the cover of darkness to harm innocent people and saved them from drunken drivers on the road.
The ‘lockdown’ is training us on matters like stocking dry rations and saving part of the household income for a rainy day. You should also be glad to know that about 80 per cent of those who are infected by coronavirus will show mild to no symptoms at all. They may not even need to go to hospital for treatment despite the fact that they have the capacity to infect others.
Then the number of people who survive after infection of the disease is about 95 per cent, which is very high compared to cancer and many other fatal health conditions. The most important measures to stay away from the virus are readily available. Soap and water to wash off the virus that one may have come into contact with after touching surfaces on which it may have settled does not require rocket science, sacks of money or to be administered by a trained health professional.
This pandemic has taught about the importance and practice of personal hygiene. Many have during this period learnt for the first time how to PROPERLY and thoroughly wash their hands frequently with soap and water. The same applies to having a balanced diet and good nutrition. Because we have been told about higher survival chances for people with good immunity, all over a sudden, people are eating more fruits and vegetables than ever.
Coronavirus outbreak has brought the spotlight and attention of nearly everyone in the public and private sector to the importance of egalitarianism in public health policies and measures locally and globally. It has highlighted the non-discriminatory nature and universality of most pathogens and diseases.
Now that borders are closed, no one, however big or rich, is allowed to go and encroach on the health systems developed elsewhere.
We are likely to see increased investment in infrastructure and motivation plus safety of health personnel back home and elsewhere.
This new virus has sent scientists and researchers worldwide to work on finding a cure or vaccine.
That is a good thing for the stock of knowledge and the advancement of the boundaries of human medicine. We can’t downplay this daunting challenge and catastrophe that faces humanity. But we have to appreciate the opportunities that have come along like the silver lining that comes with every dark cloud.
Stay safe by adhering to the guidelines provided the President and all the health professionals. Try to guide others to do the same. Avoid purveying alarming news and statistics plus stigmatizing those who you assume are sick and spreading the virus. Instead encourage them to seek medical help in case they show symptoms. Coronavirus will set mankind back then thereafter humanity will rise to even greater horizons. There is light at the end of this tunnel.
Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues. email@example.com.