The world is in panic, nations are afraid. Rulers and Kings are gripped by terror as death that seemingly has no solution lurks in the dark. A pandemic that is no respecter of persons is in town. Covid-19 otherwise known as Corona Virus has taken over the world. Covid-19 discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China is decimating the world. About four months after its outbreak over 36, 571 deaths have been recorded world over. The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that over one billion people are on lockdown. In Nigeria, we have about 139 cases up from 51 that we had about the same time last week, seven have been discharged while two deaths are said to have been recorded, if present information is to be believed.
Some governors and prominent Nigerians are in self isolation after having tested positive. Governor of Bauchi, Bala Mohammed due to his contact with a carrier has tested positive, Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, Oyo State governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde likewise Malam Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari have all tested positive. For former President Olusegun Obasanjo who was quoted to have expressed disbelief about the arrival of the disease in Nigeria, he has now seen the light and has donated his building for the care of the sick.
But let us keep our hopes up, the world will overcome as it has always done in times past. There have been several instances of such epidemics and pandemics in times past. In 165 AD, the world had its first taste of epidemic called Antonine plague. The plague killed about five million people. The disease affected people of Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece and Italy and was said to have been taken to Rome by soldiers returning to Mesopotamia. It however decimated the Roman army before its disapearance.
There was also the plague of Justinian in 541-542 AD. It killed over 25 million people, half of the population of Europe. Caused by bubonic plague, the epidemic was said to have killed a quarter of the population of eastern Mediterranean and devastated Constantinople where it was said to have killed about 5000 on a daily basis. About 40 percent of the population perished from the disease.
There was the Black death from 1346 to 1353 with a death toll of between 75-200 million. It ravaged Europe, Africa and Asia. It was said to have originated from Asia and spread to other continent from fleas living on rats aboard merchant ships.
The world witnessed its first pandemic in 1852 to 1860 with a cholera outbreak that killed about one million people. This Cholera pandemic was said to have originated from India and spread through Asia, Europe, North America and Africa. By the time the cause was traced to contaminated water by a British physician, John Snow in 1854, it had claimed 23,000 deaths in Britain. In 1889 to 1890, the world experienced another pandemic caused by Influenza. The disease led to one million deaths. In 1910 to 1911, there was another Cholera pandemic. But the world was then wiser as infected people were quickly isolated. Only about 800,000 deaths were recorded.
The worst of the pandemic that the world ever witnessed in modern time was that of 1918 with the outbreak of the flu pandemic. The death toll was between 20-50 million people, it infected a third of World’s population with one million deaths per week. Strangely, this particular pandemic focused on completely healthy young adults, leaving children and adults with weaker immune systems uninfected. The Asian flu of 1956 to 1958 left two million deaths in its wake. It also originated from China and spread to Singapore, Hong Kong and America. About a decade later in 1968, the world again experienced another pandemic and was first reported in Hong Kong as an off shoot of the previous decade’s influenza. It ran away with one million souls.
More recent is the HIV/AIDs pandemic. At its peak, the HIV/AIDs pandemic between 2005 to 2012, claimed over 36 million people and still claiming, though it has been brought under control with adequate management. Today, a lot of people are still living with HIV/AIDs and are going about their daily businesses, living highly productive lives.
With the present Covid-19, though scary, the world will overcome as it has always done. The holy book in Luke 10:19 said. ‘Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means hurt you’. And in Genesis 1: 26 ‘… And God said let us make man in our own image and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth and every other creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth’. As humans, we will have dominion over everything on earth and no pestilence shall overcome us.
However, Covid-19 is not a disease that the world would forget in a hurry. In Nigeria as in the rest of the world, the disease is not discriminatory. It affects the high and the mighty. It has become a leveler which has kept every one humble. The joke in town is that even the high and mighty, who at short notice travel out of the country for the treatment of common cold, are now confined to the Nigeria. Due to the travel ban, they stand rejected from going to Europe or any part of the world as they are wont to do.
The situation has also brought home to us the dismal health care situation in the country. Our hospital are mere consulting clinics as had been said several years ago. The facilities are in sorry state. We cannot continue to live with the situation. The Covid-19 pandemic has presented another opportunity for our leaders to do the needful. We need dedicated hospitals for emergencies. We need equipment to care for our people. We need trained personnel to handle pandemics of these nature or any other disease. Though we do not pray for any of such. The sooner we embark on this course of action, the better for all of us.
In all these, kudos have to go to Lagos governor, Jide Sanwoolu for his proactive, yeoman’s job to curtail the spread of the disease. Apart from his hands-on approach, other measures of fumigating the streets of Lagos, closing of the state secretariat and markets to control the spread are commendable. Other states are taking a cue from this. But we will get over this. We should not take the challenges as a disadvantage, but an opportunity to do it right and make it better. #Stay safe.