Since the outbreak of COVID-19, otherwise or more popularly called CORONA-VIRUS (or Chinavirus by President Trump), several issues have cropped up. It started with a debate around the virus being an engineered bio-craft for bio-warfare, the conspiracy theory being that, one of the big powers, notably the US and/or China, may have started some war against each other. Indeed, the Chinese openly accused the US of experimenting a bio-weapon on China. Some religious persons have equally found a way of telling their followers that, the Biblical prophesies are unfolding. The time is here. Jesus’ Second Coming is nigh. Of course, these prophesies have been noted for the entire 2000 and over years that Jesus’ second coming was expected. But they keep repeating and recurring. But let me be blunt: these signs should urge Christians to have faith in God and repent their ways. They are NOT signs that the Christ would be here tomorrow. I say this because 5000 (Three Thousand) years before Christ was born, there was an epidemic. An epidemic wiped out a prehistoric village in China. “HaminMangha” is one of the best-preserved prehistoric sites in northeastern China. Again, Around 430 B.C., not long after a war between Athens and Sparta began, an epidemic ravaged the people of Athens and lasted for five years. Some estimates put the death toll as high as 100,000 people. The Greek historian Thucydides (460-400 B.C.) wrote that “people in good health were all of a sudden attacked by violent heats in the head, and redness and inflammation in the eyes, the inward parts, such as the throat or tongue, becoming bloody and emitting an unnatural and fetid breath” (translation by Richard Crawley from the book “The History of the Peloponnesian War,” London Dent, 1914).
There have been not less than twenty other pandemics after Christ’s death. In short, throughout the course of history, disease outbreaks have ravaged humanity, sometimes changing the course of history and, at times, signaling the end of entire civilizations. The Inca and Astec Empires were wiped out, because of an epidemic reportedly brought by the Spanish invaders. Recent pandemics have claimed millions of lives. The AIDS pandemic is on record to have taken away 35 000 000 (Thirty-Five Million) lives throughout the world. The latest additions have been the H1N1 Swine Flu – 2009 – 2010 (which took 1.6 million lives); the West Africa Ebola epidemic (with an estimated 11,355 dead); and the Central America Zika virus, which is still on-going. And now, we are confronted with the Coronavirus pandemic, a pneumonia-like disease of unknown cause, detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and declared a public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30th January 2020. Today, there are about 20 000 deaths recorded from about 450 000 reported cases world-wide.
From what I have said here so far, it would be an insane, unprofitable exercise for now to look for someone to blame. Pandemics spread like fire and waits for none. It is the waiting that is causing Europe enormous tolls. Italy is now the epicenter of chaos, panic, and death (close to 7000 deaths at the time of writing. Indeed, the exponential rise in fatalities show that Italy would need a miracle to halt the pandemic). Spain, Germany and France are at their wits end. Spain is in a complete shutdown with people confined to their houses because of the pandemic and the nation has suffered 2000 virus-related deaths including 394 in the past 24 hours.
And yet the geo-political game is on. Historically, pandemics respond to systems. The more rigorous the system, the more effective and responsive the measures at curbing the pandemic. China’s success at stabilizing the pandemic and slowing down any spread of it has been lauded even by the West and the World Health Organization (WHO). China is a particular case – a centrally-controlled, top-down, one-party state socialist democracy that allows no dissent and can mobilise vast resources on a single issue.In January, China effectively shut down Wuhan and placed its 11 million residents in effective quarantine — a move it then replicated in the rest of Hubei province, putting 50 million people in mass isolation.Across the rest of the country, residents were strongly encouraged to stay at home.Hundreds of millions of Chinese live in closed residential complexes where neighbourhood committees can police movement in and out. This meaning compliance could be closely monitored. This shows that “Containment works”. Two weeks after the closure of Wuhan, which is exactly the incubation period, the number (of infections) started to drop. Meanwhile, the patriotic doctors and health officials worked day and night to fight the virus. Ten new hospitals were built within days. Also, the system where citizens yield to the collective will, the public good and will, – such a system always conquers adversities. The Chinese believe in constitutionalism and institutionalism. The opposite is seen in other systems, where the individual is more important than the general public will.
In Ghana, we disrespect authority. We politicize everything. Some politicians would even want to make political capital out of this scary national and global pandemic. They called on the government to ensure the immediate return of all Ghanaians, especially students from Wuhan. They now should ask those countries, including Spain and Italy, which did that what the outcomes have been. They also said that government directives for social distancing and staying home and avoidance of congregation were ploys to rig the impending elections. Others are telling government not to announce a total lock down. It would have very telling economic effects. In China you wouldn’t dare say these things. If things go worse, there could be the possibility of some constitutional crisis – some disruptions of the norm, including postponing elections. I have already said that, some pandemics wiped out entire empires. Let’s not joke with such issues. Let the so-called Bishops and Prophets stopinsulting our intelligence and sensibilities through their unintelligent conduct and/or utterances. Those who have found some cure (oil) must take them to the WTO. They are prophesying the winner of the 2020 elections but they couldn’t see the coronavirus coming!
The politicians, the clergy, the doubtful in society, everybody must know that no-one is safe. The Angela Merlels, Paul Randys, Mitt Romneys, and other world leaders, Ministers and Generals have all been afflicted. Malawi, which has not yet recorded a single case of infection has even announced a lockdown. President Putin has ordered new military drills to enhance capabilities in fighting corona-virus. US Congress has agreed on a two trillion dollar package as stimulus to the economy. There is consensus. The public good is the ultimate goal. Ghanaians still want to congregate; they still want to socialize; they still want assert their human rights etc. The danger is always in ‘social collapse’. Let me end this piece by quoting WHO Director when he was asked about his expectation:
“This will end with humanity victorious over yet another virus, there’s no question about that. The question is how much and how fast we will take the measures necessary to minimize the damage that this thing can do. In time, we will have therapeutics, we will have vaccines, we’re in a race against that.And it’s going to take great cooperation and patience from the general population to play their part because at the end of the day it’s going to be the general population that stops this thing and slows it down enough to get it under control”.(Caps/italics mine)
By V. Antwi-Danso