By Ajibola Olayinka
It was 2020, a year seen only once in a century. Records were dug out of outlandish events on the spectaculars only seen in the something twenties and 2020 was believed to belong to the pantheon. There was the 1720 plague, 1820 cholera, 1920 Spanish flu and now 2020 Coronavirus. The 100 years clock-set has remained a mystery beyond the Nostradamus 1551 writings interpreted as prediction of the current crisis. Individuals, families, corporations and nations were occupied with planning, scenarios and futuristic modelling to make history out of the leap year.
When the smoke of Coronavirus (COVID-19) spewed out of Wuhan China therefore, the emergence was a butt of joke from the rest of the world. Social media was inundated with the usual animal consumption by Chinese without respect for preparation and promptly concluded this as the veritable source of the new attack. The height of disbelief even by those who should know better came from America’s White House when the President dismissed the “Chinese Virus” that it will not see the end of the day in the United States. Her citizens were daily glued to the television interviews and campaigns for the next presidential election and the new leader.
For the rest of the world, it was business as usual. While the world played the ostrich, globalization continued unabated with people, aircraft, luxury ships, etc. ferrying mankind and goods from one end of the world to another end. You can control your action but you cannot control its consequences. Before the world could usher in the 2020 new year, the raging infection has scattered to political, economic and social centers of the universe ready to wreak unprecedented havoc never seen before in this generation.
It was obvious the universe has gone on a forced holiday. Others believe the earth is ripe for Sabbath or a year of Jubilee. The megalomaniac concluded it is the apocalypse before the earth crash. Welcome to a new world on reverse gear as COVID-19 Pandemic is gifting the world rewind mode from civilization to the early man.
Pandemics or War?
The acceleration dynamics confounded the experts and the World Health Organization (WHO) quickly moved the Virus (code named COVID-19) from a local infection to a global pandemic. Discovered in December 2019, it has zigzagged to global extremes within weeks due to movement of people, goods and cargoes. The pestilential devastation peaked by mid-February in Hubei province in China and this compelled the supreme commander to take over its management. Horror films and videos were salaciously served daily how human packs of the dead were moved to the graves as statistics of the disease. Mega hospitals were constructed in record time to accommodate the sick. In spite of elaborate procedures by health authorities, the novel virus has no known medication for now. Patients at the critical stage only got access to Ventilators to recover bursting lungs and loosing breath and once it went beyond this, a new death record was created. This was only in China.
Fleetingly, there was the rude incursion of conspiracy theories. The virus was the outcome of the launch of 5G, the latest generation of the data super highway invented to deliver explosive score-card with China and the western nations on the forefront. China must have embarked on a biological warfare to show her superiority over America and the Wuhan results were outcome of tests carried out. There were also outright denial that Coronavirus was a figment of WHO imagination. Unfortunately, the virus is a novel landfall and data about it were few and far between. Nevertheless, the transmission continued on its exponential scale, unprecedented in this generation.
Subsequently, Europe and the United States became the epicenter and curves in Italy and Spain in particular started climbing north very fast. With the emergence of the moment of truth, panic set in as hospitals could no longer hold massive infected patients while hotels, luxury ships, military bases and sport facilities were augmented to accommodate the pandemic surge. Cities and countries became locked down in all the nations of the world. Aviation and global transportation came to a standstill. Freedom was curtailed with ‘stay at home orders’ to minimize community spread.
The outcome of the situation could not be better demonstrated than the scene in Italian cities. For weeks the streets were deserted, devoid of life and busting they were accustomed to. Having wiped off many families and generations, people began to throw into the streets cash and expensive materials. Work flows and food supply chains became abruptly truncated. Despite release of strategic food banks hunger loomed large even in rich suburbs. In dense municipalities hoodlums engage state securities in rampage, looting, stealing and killing in the name of survival. Foods and survival kits are being rationed in several countries as hunger looms in the corner for those who escaped the Virus. Hope was on a tenterhook. Wild goats and dangerous animals flooded several counties in Wales and the bewildered creatures were shown watching families locked up in various houses due to lockdown. Ecuador witnessed dead bodies of the victims of the virus lying on streets without burial attention. Finally, the US Surgeon General told a shocked audience that infection and subsequent death from Coronavirus is worse than 9/11 attack and Pearl Harbour at the peak of World War II.
In wartime, people die from attack; Fear hangs in the air; Lockdown becomes compulsory; foods are rationed; Lives and livelihood are disconnected; Devastation hits hard and what takes years to build are forcefully taken down; Ceasefire becomes unpredictable; Peace wings away leaving crisis behind; Freedom is curtailed and work abandoned. Life becomes “nasty, brutish and short” and uncertainty rules the air.
The boundariless pandemic is war on a universal scale with no respect for race, color, social status or nation. Nuclear arsenal, biological weapon, economic supremacy, intellectual property, mega prosperity (name it) pales to nothing against the contagion of Coronavirus. It is the worst war fighting invisible enemy.
Places, Cases and Faces
The first Coronavirus index in Nigeria, an Italian was on a call of duty when he arrived at Lafarge. Two weeks before then, the stakeholders were honking the nation for shutting the airports and borders to commence the protocols for fighting the spread from importation. Now it is known with the benefit of hindsight that the Committee delayed the shut down because several important personalities were abroad for business, government or personal reasons and their interests were protected with that position. By the time the shutdown was activated the infection has been generously transmitted to families, friends, cronies and acquaintances by the new arrivals. Those who responded for quarantine and isolation began to get government attention and mild and serious cases became admitted into special hospitals. However, the second categories of returnees ignored instruction and ended up in regular hospitals when the virus became critical. The latter set accounted for the major deaths recorded so far across the country. Thereafter, community infection has accounted for daily increase in the number of the sick.
Italy, Spain, UK, France and USA were not as lucky. These nations are paying for inaction, indiscipline, arrogance and negligence to keep the rampaging virus at bay. First, the epicenter has migrated from China to Europe and America. Second, there has been a harvest of death and Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York State in the US captured its gory picture in his daily media briefing. Third, the disease has remained an equal opportunity predator with the high and mighty coming under its hammer, the highest ranked being the Prime Minister of UK, Mr. Boris Johnson. The world breathed a sigh of relief on his recovery. Fourth, global economy has changed tragically from what we used to know with stock market free fall, record high unemployment, heavy deficit in budget numbers, economic depression of the highest magnitude, tendency towards zero productivity, trade and currency exchange losses, virtual collapse of the SMEs amongst others.
Paris, Tokyo, New York, London and Rome have lost their allure of beauty with deserted streets and frightened populace. The newly commissioned Disney Studio has taken the back seat. Nevertheless, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and probably Japan have managed to keep reasonable numbers of the virus carriers. Germany is also reputed to account for a low death turnout due to aggressive testing and early treatment. Over the last 10 weeks, average death of infected people has moved from 2% to above 6% with a prospect for a more frightening figure on a global scale.
Trust human nature for survival, “skin for skin, all that a man has will he give for his life”. Stimulus packages not witnessed in war time are being announced by country leaders. Money bags have created a common purse as additional resources to restore hope. Mankind is racing against time for COVID-19 Vaccine as huge resources have been deployed across the globe. While the drug front-liners have announced approval for between three and nine months, some trial and error cocktail of drugs are been dispensed to save lives. Challenge for the production of adequate ventilators have been taken up even by automobile manufacturers. The traditional contributions are not left out with herb recipes from the mundane to the bizarre.
Who will save the world from desolation, decimation and demotion to its humble beginnings? Except there is an intervention of the Invisible Hand as in the past pestilences, civilization will be reversed and we will see the early man again.
Predicting the Beginning of the End
Imminence of Coronavirus is an exchange of baton from present civilization to a journey in the past as the world used to know the history. We should begin to take seriously the metamorphosis of dinosaur from being the biggest creature to its extinction. We should peep into the future and “see” what the new world will look like on the other side provided humanity is not wiped out.
We will see power concentrated into a few hands to direct the affairs of the world. Remember, in war time, leaders are empowered to decide and act without recourse to any other arm of government. Such situation will end broad participation in governance and nations will be accustomed to a one-man rule.
For sure, sophisticated machines invented to ease movement and transportation currently grounded will no longer be needed. Every person will be limited to the neighborhood and movement by foot will be adequate for human purpose.
Man is a gregarious animal will become an old saying because being gregarious is a game of death. As related in Yoruba, “Karin kapo, yiye ni ye ni yoo di ka rin ka po, pipa ni pa ni”. Social gathering is a veritable source of virus, as such, everyone will keep to self and families will stay home.
The immediate environment will be the only source of succor, supplies, food and comfort. Every item within the vicinity will count for survival and it will be everyone for self and God for all of us. Man will hopefully cling to these until either they are exhausted and succumb to the inevitable or the end eventually comes.
Mankind will begin to live by a true nuclear family concept as there will be no room to accommodate beyond this family pack. As the family grows in size, questions will be raised on raising a new family. However, there will be high tendency that siblings will begin to raise new families.
There will be a dramatic change in diet and you can count on generous green. This may even prolong lives as lifestyle and age sicknesses will no longer intimidate the gerontocrats. Remember that global fashion headquarters now exist in dreams, as such our dress sense will borrow a leaf from Mr. and Mrs. Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Education and interaction will move to virtual online. GTB made history in Nigeria holding its 2020 AGM by proxy. Others in the private sector are exploring this method. Again, since we cannot enjoy any resource in the new world paradigm ad infinitum, current information highway may become a past event and communication limited to word of mouth amongst the family.
As economic activities grind to a halt, trade by barter will reclaim its place of glory. Since money and banking sophistry will relocate to the archives, man will devise other means of exchange for the complementary survival resources localized with other families.
New measures of wealth will be created on family, national and international levels. This will become imperative even if only for score-keeping and record purposes. Economic jargons about GDP, GNP, Reserves, per capital analyses, Fortune 500, etc. will be substituted for other methods based on the new realities. The Forbes billionaires will detest this!
Wuhan, the first epicenter of Coronavirus has sprung from its ashes. The 11-million city has resumed business, leisure and movements after eleven weeks lockdown; Its streets shriek of rubber on the road; Its airports roar with aircraft take-off and landing; Its factories hummed with working machines; Its city center resumes human and vehicular traffic. All thanks to the ingenious Chinese IT experts who devised an app to allow only virus-free beings out on the streets. While new cases have remained muted, fatalities appear to be receding to the past. Other Chinese cities and communities continue to enjoy quality life and liberty, two indices desired most by the western world.
Boris Johnson recovered from the killer attack-“I owed my life to NHS”-and currently recuperates from his country home. Just like the British PM, 80% of infected patients recover with a little fuss, 15% are treated with cocktail of drugs while the rest battle through ventilators. From all indications, major countries with high infection and death rates are close to their peaks and hope of flattening the curves are surging.
At least three key scientific companies are in the fore-front of COVID-19 Vaccines with a timeline of between three and six months. For once, the entire world in general and the super powers in particular have rediscovered their collabo mojo to defeat a common enemy. Resources such as ventilators, PPE, and drugs (“India directed its pharmaceutical companies to release Chloroquine for export to needy countries such as US”) are shared around the world and China is sending ambassadors to help in the epic battle.
Denmark and Austria have joined the winning countries as they relaxed the lockdown rules to return to normalcy. America is gung-ho to reopen for business and decision on this is being considered at the highest level. New York shakes off the tag of the new coronavirus epicenter as employment forms are being distributed to the record jobless to return to work.
For Nigeria, the hen has come home to roost. Officials confessed they never knew our health care system is in such an abysmal hole. The public was not amused by this “discovery” since a serving minister once quipped that migration of medical personnel abroad was “normal” while a doctor serves 100,000 patients compared with a doctor to patient ratio of 1 to 600 prescribed by WHO. For as long as any could remember, our hospitals have remained death centers, even the morgues serving the needs of ritualists. Coronavirus might yet be a blessing in disguise if only governments at Federal, States and Local levels role up their sleeves to devote attention to this critical responsibility.
Oh yes, the world has vowed to move on in spite of the dreaded virus with its routine prevention and cure protocol –
Wash hands regularly and vigorously with foaming soap and clean water;
Employ alcohol based hand-sanitizer as stop gap when you are out and about;
Avoid crowd and keep a social distance of at least six feet from others;
Avoid touching the nose, eye or mouth with hands;
Wear protective devices to prevent contacting by accident;
Stay home and keep safe;
When you notice coronavirus symptoms, contact the authorities.
Maybe, just maybe it is not time to embark on the backward journey to the early man of the Stone Age. Those outside our lunar world are watching as mankind drops its last blood to preserve its digital age civilization.
*Ajibola Olayinka writes from Legos