By Sunmola Olowookere
Familiarly, Shuaib sauntered into our office and walked up to his customer who was expecting him. Reporters that were scattered across the room immediately reach for their nose masks and face shields on seeing a visitor from outside.
Everyone was careful. Coronavirus had assumed a frightening dimension in the nation and our dear state is not left out of the onslaught with the recent shocking discoveries about the virus in Ondo state. Currently, the statistics of people that had contracted the virus are leaping towards 400 with 20 deaths as at the time of writing this piece.
Hence, we were not ready to leave anything to chance. Shuaib is a mechanic and virtually all of us have had dealings with him one time or the other. But he was not welcomed warmly this time.
“Only God knows how many places he had been to and how many people he had contact with,” were the thoughts uppermost in our minds.
The officer who had called him over issued him a stern directive, “Shuaib, please put on your nose mask. I have told you not to come here without putting on any protection. “
The mechanic was not fazed by the rebuke at all. He laughed with confidence “Oga, don’t be afraid.
I have told you that I cannot have coronavirus, do you know the quantity of petrol that slides down my throat everyday? Can the virus withstand such products?”
How he came about the knowledge or how sure he was about his submission, only he can tell. As far as we know, coronavirus till date has no known effective antidote or cure. One must be careful.
Since the virus became known almost a year ago, People all over the world have concocted myriads of antidotes that could counter the novel coronavirus. The list is endless; ginger, garlic, lemon, lime, neem, turmeric, cloves etc. Claims of relief after using these preparation are numerous on the social media.
However, how truly effective these antidotes would be in fighting the virus, scientists have not been able to tell us. Nonetheless, this has not hindered people’s ingenuity in taking care of themselves.
The virus as soon as it appeared on Nigerian soil around March this year has almost made rounds of the 36 states of the federation with Lagos and Abuja taking a constant lead.
In Ondo State, a cursory observation of the situation revealed that while the corporate world takes care to prevent the virus from gaining access into their system, the opposite is the case among the traders and the artisans. The situation might have not been so dire but for our attitude to emergencies.
Not long after the Ondo State government allowed traders at the various markets to operate on selective days, things got out of hand as traders and buyers alike refused to take responsibility for their safety. While Ekiti State was still on lockdown, we happily pranced about like one with no care in the world.
A visit to our markets will reveal traders and buyers without any nosemasks or with one nonchalantly placed across their chins. They clustered and still cluster without any recourse to social distancing directive by the government and the NCDC.
They had been able to blackmail the government into a surrender, yet they would not take responsibility. Instead of twice in a week, they opened their stalls everyday. Their arguments were that they needed to work, so as, to find what to eat. They claimed that it was either they die from coronavirus or “hunger virus “.
As a close acquaintance once puts it, if it was a war going on, would they still demand that they needed to go out and work for their living? It is very apparent to anyone discerning enough that the current situation is almost akin to a war. And it demands the same exigencies.
Countries of the world are faced with an enemy which no weapon in their hands can kill, it is a war. It kills anyone at will irrespective of class, age or religion. It has no cure. Great countries of the globe are brought to their knees while the leaders are at a loss as the virus kills unrestrainedly.
The only means that the world has been able to adopt in defence is avoiding coming in contact with it. Our scientists have not able to come up with an effective cure.
In our dear country, coronavirus has gotten into a tangle with some of the best of our generals on the battlefield; medical doctors and laid them flat on their backs.
The scenario makes ordinary laymen afraid as they wonder “how did these medical personnel come in contact with it? Were they not careful enough? Or, as we are prone to reason when we are flummoxed by happenings around us, is there something more to this virus than what meet the ordinary eye?”
When the state government is much concerned and apprehensive about the heightened state of the transmission, some are still disbelieving like the biblical doubting Thomas.
They would ask, “have you seen someone that tested positive to the virus? Do you know someone who has a family at the isolation centre? Have you ever been there? Have you seen a picture of the inside on the media? ”
When they posed these questions to you and you cannot answer in the affirmative, they would gloat “There is nothing like coronavirus in Nigeria. Our government is only using it to siphon our money.”
However, it would do this class of people a great service to divest themselves of their cloak of doubt, so that, they do not contract the virus through carelessness. Some recovered patients have terrifying tales to tell of their bouts with the virus.
They tell us how it ravaged them and sapped them of all vitality. According to research, most patients in their 60s rarely make it out alive. The stories abound on the social media.
While wishing those being ravaged by the virus quick recovery and praying for the repose of souls that are fallen from it, this is to call on all of us to ensure that we are responsible citizens of the country by adhering to all the rules and regulations of the NCDC on coronavirus.
The country cannot be on lockdown perpetually. Life must move on. Even Lagos State is moving on.
Recently, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced gradual re-opening of schools from August 3, directing students in transitional classes, who have mandatory public exams ahead of them, to resume for revision classes and their examination.
We cannot put our life on hold forever. Let all states work out modalities for safe reopening of public places. It is a novel situation but we can work around it.
Those calling for a lockdown especially in Ondo State need to be persuaded that it will only worsen our economy. Let everyone be vigilant and careful. Together we will overcome.