It is a normal adrenaline reaction that humans tend to panic when there is danger and a threat on their existence. And with the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, spreading like wildfire, many have only reacted with fear, which has pushed them to do some silly things and even say the unimaginable. Favour Boluwade and Eniola Oyemolade report some of such reactions.
“I sneezed, I was scared, I started to panic at that moment because I had heard that sneezing is a sign of corona”.
“But sneezing would not make you have the virus babe, you haven’t had contact with anyone who was suspected of having the virus, you know?”
“Oh my days” was the exclamation I made finally to the short conversation between myself and a friend. More people,as the awareness of the novel Coronavirus, also called Covid-19, is spreading have also continued to panic and live in fear of contact. Many, have also even forgotten to listen or pay attention to the details of this pandemic that had affected over 170 Nigerians and a total of over 200,000 cases globally.
Some do not even know what the viral disease is about, they do not have an idea of what facts, statistics, instructions and guidelines the World Health Organisation (WHO) , NCDC (National Centre for Disease Control), verified national news media and other authentic sources have have released over time, at least since the health issue started. There have also been too much false information on the social media that have only succeeded in spreading more harm than good, instilling fear in people.
We are God’s own State; only, mentioned in the Holy Book
“Abia State cannot have any case of Coronavirus because it is the only state mentioned in the Bible.” These were the words of Abia State governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu in a viral video on Twitter few days ago.
He added that, “we have the promise of God that none of these diseases will touch God’s people and I hold unto God’s promise.
“We saw Ebola, it did not get to us. We saw monkey pox, it did not get to us, even this one will pass us by.”
Several reactions trailed this video as people noted that rather than put measures in place to contain and respond to it, he would rather talk about God’s promise.
They even felt an educated and enlightened person like him should have the knowledge to address the matter differently and should have instead, advised people on the do’s and dont’s.
Speaking to 65-year-old Fadare Motunrayo, she said she did not even have a radio set not to talk of a mobile phone. She just noticed people wearing masks and gloves all over and when she asked people around the market, they could not give her a solid explanation, only that “there’s a disease around.”
“I believe this disease cannot come near me because I’m a Christian and I hold unto God’s word. I don’t need to observe any special measure as nothing can happen to me.”
This has led to the tag “COVIDIOT”, a name given to someone who knows what measures to take as regards prevention of Coronavirus, yet, they ignore them. For instance, social distancing.
The ignorance panic
“na only oyinbo man dey catch am”
On Friday, a young man was standing close to Ansar-ud- deen Mosque in Ibadan and was obviously waiting for Jumat service. When Saturday Tribune walked to him, Ishaq was asked if he didn’t know about mosque closure, he said.
“Abi, corona news no reach your side?
His affirmative answer was a shock as he boldly made the remark that only white men could have the disease. Just at an interval of a few seconds, he had to ask what the Corona was about.
It was surprising he was ignorant of the virus; maybe he assumed it was not his business or it was a lie. Saturday Tribune took time to educate him on the spread of the virus and made it clear that the only reason people spread the news everywhere that the virus would not survive in Nigeria was because of the African hot weather. Many believe it was all a lie that the virus would spread due to the difference in weather conditions until the first case was reported in Lagos.
This same piece of information wiggled its way to religious gatherings, council meetings and on the street such that a lot of people were comfortable and rest assured that the temperature would “send the virus away”.
Some, after they heard the announcement that chloroquine, a popular anti-malaria drug might cure Covid-19, went panic shopping, self medicating without waiting for confirmation. It was reported afterwards by a Lagos hospital that three people were hospitalised in the city after taking overdose of the drug.
If I had touched the money he gave me after he coughed..
Sneezing and coughing doesn’t attract a “bless you” anymore.
Miss Emem also related her experience with Saturday Tribune. She had said her fear skyrocketed on the day she rode on a bike from her workplace home and the rider had sneezed just before she paid him the transport fare. Emem said: “ I had been trying to avoid people these days since the outbreak but there is no way to avoid taking a bike home because no cab gets to my area. So, after all my runaway from wahala, this bikeman had to sneeze before I paid my fare. My brain prompted me sharply not to hand over the money to him directly. I didn’t even know if he sneezed in his hands or the air, I just wanted to be out of there. I threw the money on his seat and even told him to keep the change, please I cannot risk my life.”
Many would never stand or sit close to anyone who sneezes. However, she was asked if that the virus could be spread by sneezing but only if the one who does is infected or has come in contact with it.
The numerous fake broadcast messages and skits
Same for those, who in spite of the numerous pleadings not to spread fake news in this critical period, still send any and every broadcast message they receive.
One of such messages read: “warning warning warning*. Please nobody should be outside by midnight today, lock your door and window. Don’t leave your clothes or shoes outside because the Federal Government has announced the plans to spray chemicals on air with private jet to protect the country because of the Coronavirus. Please be warned.”
Surprisingly, some others were very sure Coronavirus is just a ‘scam’, a ploy to cart away money by the government, which leaves people wondering if this set of individuals listen to or watch the news at all.
Everyday, several health bodies update people all around the world about increasing cases, deaths, recoveries and so on, yet, some have refused to believe.
More baffling are the skit makers and some others online who just love to catch cruise with anything.
A check through social media had names like “aunty corona”, “mr Corona”, “queen of corona” and so on, and even adding “coming to a city near you; if I follow you, you are next.”
A video on Twitter a few days ago also showed a skit maker, who ran into a pharmacy, asking for the doctor and telling people he had contracted the virus. People started running helter skelter because, of course, who wants to contract the disease?
The skits were made for likes and comments but unknown to them, they had only succeeded in creating panic and causing worry among people.
But Coronavirus is not a joke
In this critical period, people should know better than doing stupid things to attract attention. It is way beyond just a disease, it has been termed a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
In relation to this, through the Twitter handle of the NCDC, a note of warning we sent : “We received several messages and calls over an Instagram video. The individual was said to be very sick and reported that NCDC did not respond. We have reached out to him and he said what he did was a SKIT. He is well. Please respect the call and message lines. Do not spread panic”.
The Federal Government also through Bashir Ahmad, announced plans to ban inter-state travel and possibly close down all motor parks as part of measures to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus. Minister of Informatuon, Lai Mohammed, disclosed the plans in a statement on Friday. He said, “New measures being considered by the Federal Government include using fire fighting and other adaptable vehicles and personnel to fumigate cities and towns.”
He also addressed the issue of the face mask donated by Jack Ma, from China.
Lai Mohammed said: “The face masks and the PPE donated by the Jack Ma Foundation will be distributed to the front-line health workers across the country while the test kits will be shared among Nigeria’s five test laboratories. “
What then is not weird?
WHO has stated the most important things to do at this crucial period. The information is that people should wash their hands frequently, avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose, and also to cover the mouth and nose with bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing.
The organisation also mentioned that crowded places should be avoided; hence the social distancing rule, people should stay at home if they feel unwell – even with a slight fever and cough and if there is a fever, especially coupled with cough and difficulty in breathing, they must not just persist in seekingmedical care early – but call by phone first. The NCDC has provided an emergency phone number for Nigerians.