We have an obligation to ourselves and those around us, first of all, to keep Corona Virus at bay using your face mask, washing and sanitising our hands as often as we can
By Francis Ewherido
On February 2, I decided to go to Ladipo Market, Lagos, to pick up a few items for my vehicle. The weather was dull, but I just felt it was making shakara; this is early February; it will not rain, I assured myself. When I got there, the spare part sellers swooped on my vehicle. I surveyed the nine of them, none had a face mask on. “All these young men, no be me una go endanger im life,” I said to myself.
I gestured to them to put on their face masks before I unwound my glass. When I did, they all chorused, Oga, no Corona Virus here; Corona Virus no dey. “A virus that has knocked down some of my friends and relatives and killed two of them?” I asked them. But they were not interested in arguments or a debate, neither was I. I went there to sort out a couple of items, while they were only interested in making sales.
Not long after the heavens opened, the rain was so ferocious that the canopy we took refuge under offered very little protection. I was drenched. But my major worry was that as the rain hit us ferociously in the crowded canopy, some of the traders removed their face masks and were talking loudly to avoid their voices being drowned by the sound of the rain.
What if the heavy winds carried droplets of their saliva into my face and the rain water washed them down my eyes, nose and mouth? I asked myself. When I left Ladipo, I headed straight home instead of the office. I peeled off every clothing item I had on and gave myself a hot bath. I went through my other COVID-19-prevention rituals before going back to the office.
Two days later, I travelled out of Lagos by air. COVID-19 protocols were observed at the airport terminal alright, but once we came out of the terminal, there was no social distancing in the bus that took us to the tarmac. There was also no social distancing in the economy section of the plane, where I sat. We were tightly packed like in pre-Corona Virus time. The return trip was the same. A thought just ran through my mind.
Once you are out of your house, the probability of getting infected is elevated. But “hafordu” (what do I do)? Lock myself up like a recluse until Coro goes away? Never. Moreover, this angel of death does not look like a visitor that is in a hurry to go. We have to learn to live with it. I will continue to live my life, moving around and travelling when absolutely necessary, but now with utmost caution.
The stories coming out of isolation centres are gory and very unnerving. “We were five in the room, only me came out alive,” “for days, I couldn’t breathe. It was like someone was suffocating me.” Just before I started writing, I spoke with my friend, who just came out of isolation. He said some of his co-COVID-19 patients had no strength to eat or have their bath. They had to be fed and bathed like babies.
Some could not pooh on their own since it could drain the little oxygen left in their system and lead to their death. So such patients were taken into the toilet with their oxygen masks and cylinders. He was lucky because he had no underlying ailment, so his recovery was faster. He met and left many patients in the isolation centre. Some died while he was there. The hardest hit were patients with underlying ailments like diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure, according to him.
How many people in their 50s or more are without at least one of these ailments? That is why we are a very vulnerable group. We have to be on our guard. Our first task is to keep COVID-19 at bay. Use face mask, wash and sanitise regularly and keep safe distance. The first two are very easy because we are solely responsible for observing them. But keeping safe distance always is tough.
Some of our people are just impossible. Let us even start from the church. The rule is that three people should occupy a pew. But some people will come late to church and sit on the space between the three people already seated. A mother of three little children will come late and take over the one space left in a pew. By the time he fixes her three little children in the spaces meant to keep social distance, the pew will have six people. If you insist that they observe the COVID-19 prevention protocols, they can create a scene.
I narrated my experience at Ladipo above. When I went to Lagos Island, the story was not different. A young man, without face mask was virtually in my face. I roared before he brought his face mask out of his pocket. The traders tell you boldly in every market that there is nothing like Corona Virus. Is it that none of them has suffered from the virus or died as a result Corona Virus complications?
Have the harsh conditions under which they operate strengthened their immune system and made them to be immune from the virus. They observe no COVID-19 protocols, yet they go about their daily lives unencumbered by health challenges. Are some of them dying of Corona Virus without knowing the cause of death?
Whatever be the case with the traders, COVID-19 is real. It has taken many people from us tragically and we have no guarantee that it will not take some more people. It has created an army of orphans, widows and widowers. You can reduce the numbers by observing all the necessary protocols, especially if you, like me, must continue to go out. But it is not about you only.
What about your driver, who takes public transport to your house every day? What about your domestic staff you send to the crowded market? What about your children who go to school from the house every day? Some of the people who died from complications resulting from Corona Virus never left their homes; it was brought to them by domestic staff and members of their households, who go in and out of the house. Just one slip or inadvertently letting down their guards and that was it. Some did not even know how they got it.
We have an obligation to ourselves and those around us, first of all, to keep Corona Virus at bay using your face mask, washing and sanitising our hands as often as we can. If you feel exposed like I felt after leaving Ladipo, give yourself a thorough bath, and if you have COVID-19 regimen, go through it. Unfortunately, some of these regimens are unorthodox and usage is not widespread.
They are not also recommended in hospitals. Recently, we had a good laugh with a medical doctor, who believes in and uses one of those traditional regimens for COVID-19 prevention, but does not recommend it for his patients. Africans floundered where the Chinese were spot on long ago: alternative medicine. Sad.