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Opinions of Monday, 30 March 2020

Columnist: D. C. Kwame Kwakye

Coronavirus scare and the supremacy of God

The outbreak of coronavirus also known as codvid-19 was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December 2019. As it started, it appeared to most of the world leaders as a Chinese problem which did not possibly demand much attention but was latter recognised as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020. As of 26th March, more than 522,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in over 190 countries and territories, resulting in approximately 23,701 deaths and more than 123,000 recoveries.

America and EU

On March 17th, 2020, Donald Trump, the American president referred to coronavirus as the "Chinese virus" and such commentaries were seen as escalating the tensions between China and America (Kuo, 2020). Some few days after President Trump made this remark some EU countries went under lockdown all due to codvid-19. The UK has joined other nations such as Belgium, France, Italy and Spain by introducing restrictive measures which effectively confine many people to their homes.

In the case of the UK, Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister announced a major clampdown on movement on Monday night (March 23). He said, people can only leave home for "very limited purposes", namely essential shopping and traveling to work if "absolutely necessary", for medical needs or helping others in need, or to take exercise and gatherings of more than two people are banned, other than with those they live with. Belgium's nationwide self-isolation policy is to run until April 5. In their case their citizens must stay at home unless they need to go to health facilities, work, supermarkets, or visit people in need. They are also allowed to step out for physical activity.

The Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen has announced similar restrictions on Monday (March 23) a two-week extension to its coronavirus restrictions, until April 13. His country has also banned gatherings of more than 10 people, public sector workers in non-critical posts have been told to stay home, while public venues have been closed. In a related development, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Monday announced further restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the new coronavirus, including closing open fresh food markets. In furtherance of this, they have closed markets. He added that people would only be able to go out near their houses and for one hour, once a day and only for essential trips such as keeping fit, buying food or going to the doctor. In the situation of France, people are being asked to justify their movements with a form they must present to authorities. Failure to comply can result in a fine of €135 - rising to €1,500 or even €3,700 and even a prison term for repeat offenders.

Germany one of the most advanced countries in the EU and the financial power house of the EU has so far eschewed a federal lockdown but has warned that curfews could otherwise be imposed.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on March 22 that all gatherings of more than two people would be banned in Germany "for at least two weeks" to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not withstanding the above, Italy was the first EU member state to introduce lockdowns. It's Northern regions were the first to be concerned by confinement measures which were latter extended across the country. But, Spain the worst affected country in Europe after Italy, moved drastically to restrict people's movement as casualty numbers began to soar. It's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced a state of emergency on March 14, confining people to their homes other than for specific reasons including medical needs, essential shopping, to visit those in need, traveling to and from work, or to get money. He further added people are allowed to walk dogs, but not go out running. Fines for offenders start at €100 and can go much higher (Euronews.com, 2020).

Africa and Coronavirus

The African continent has had its fair share of the Covid-19 pandemic with countries in including Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Niger, Zimbabwe etc having recorded cases.

As at 26th March, 2020, Ghana’s confirmed cases from the official government source was 132 cases (ghanahealthservice.org). Meanwhile with over 20,000 tests, South Africa reports that the number of confirmed cases is now over 900. The country enters a 21-day lockdown at midnight March 26. In Ghana situation all public, private and tertiary institutions have closed down. Public gathering including churches, mosques and others have been banned until further notice. All National Service Persons have been asked to embark on mandatory leave and all these are part of measure being put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19. While in South Africa reports indicate that there is a sudden burst of business activity as people rush to buy supplies they will need over the period. All others, except for key workers like doctors, will be expected to stay at home.

In addition businesses like restaurants and stores selling alcohol will be closed. Others in the medical field, security firms and those selling food will be allowed to stay open. In the streets, armed soldiers will be on patrol to make sure everyone complies, according to a government directive (africanews.com, 2020).

The supremacy of God

As a result of the novel Covid-19 pandemic, Wednesday 25 March 2020, was declared a national day for fasting and prayers for the country.

In a national address on Saturday 21 March 2020 to review the current stance, measures, and procedures towards curbing the spread of the disease, President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo pleaded with Ghanaians to pray whilst adhering to the measures outlined to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

“Whilst we continue to adhere to these measures and ramp up our efforts to defeat this virus, I urge all of us also to seek the face of the Almighty. So on Wednesday, 25 March 2020, I appeal to all Ghanaians – Christians and Muslims to observe a national day of fasting and prayer. Let us pray to God to protect our nation and save us from this pandemic,” he said. He continued that “I thank the women and men of God who prayed for the nation with me on Thursday and with the Vice President on Friday for their intervention.” This action by the president of Ghana exhibits him as someone who believes in a transcendental being. The nation fasted and prayed and we all believe if we do our best, God Almighty would add his to perfect out efforts and extricates us from this bondage.

Some countries are branded as first world and superpowers and this is normally measured in military might and financial muscle. This year, if all goes well and the bill is passed, it would authorize $738 billion in US defense spending for 2020, which comes to $22 billion more than was spent on defense in 2019 (Guilfoyle, 2019). While the Chinese government according to reports, In March 2019, China’s Ministry of Finance announced a yearly budget of 1.19 trillion yuan ($177.5 billion), marking a 7.5 percent increase from the 2018 budget of 1.11 trillion yuan ($167.4 billion) (chinapower.csis.org).

With all these monies spent on defense by these two countries, they could not defend their citizens and Covid-19 has exposed the world as lacking proper leadership and having misplaced priority and also showing that some things are above human capacity and ability.

Covid-19 is now a global pandemic with no known cure and the whole world is struggling and trying to find solutions. This in my humble view should awaken the leadership of the world that, they don't control the world but, this world has an owner.

With all our advancement in medicine, science and technology, the most developed countries of the world are reeling under the pressure of covid-19. Leadership of the world should begin to reprioritise, cut down military spending and direct their attention on things that elevates humanity and root out poverty, misery and quagmire.

Coronavirus isn't a nuclear warhead, neither is it an atomic bomb but has been able to expose the world so much that leaders of countries have no clue as to what do. Indeed some countries have done what is humanly possible, but still the scourge of the pandemic is just unfathomable. Well endowed nations are thinking of stimulus packages for their companies that might struggle due to coronavirus impact on their cash flows. Mankind has made a lot of progress but sometimes we tend to forget that all the knowledge that moves this world and the power some countries wield come from somewhere.

Conclusion

In concluding, I humbly posit that irrespective of the progress we have made as human species, we should not lose sight of the fact that, this works belongs to someone and once we were created then it means there is a Creator.

With all the religions of the world things are not right and Coronavirus has exposed all of us. Is Covid-19 a punishment from the Creator so the created, which is us would turn from our evil ways and follow his directions?

This whole life we have to live is to serve our fellow men. We are supposed to help one another live descent lives and have a meaningful living. We are all in the image of God and must be seen acting aright. With the advent of coronavirus, Jack MA who is a wealthy Chinese citizen has donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and COVID-19 test kits to some African countries:Gabon, Ghana, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo among other countries. This is what the Creator expect from us all as humans.

The strong must assist the weak to raise the standards of humanity in order to achieve universal brotherhood. We are each other’s keeper. Considering the amounts China, the USA, Russia and other countries spend on defense, something is wrong with this world. Because, if I would see you as a brother and treat you with respect and dignity then why spend huge sums of money on defense when some citizens don't have food to eat.

Going forward, I think coronavirus has taught us all lessons that no matter what we do, there is someone ( God or Absolute Reality, The Omnipotent and Omnipresence, The Alpha and Omega, etc.) who owns this earth and us all. Let the world begin to rethink. Let us all have feelings for one another and be wiling and prepared to come to each other's aid in order to make the world a beautiful place for us all and generations that would come after us. We should take lessons from coronavirus and forge ahead to change the status quo of the world and to see all ourselves as members of the human family.

In these difficult times, may Allah, the Most Gracious and Ever Merciful be merciful and gracious unto us.

D. C. Kwame Kwakye

Broadcast Journalist

GBC Radio Central

asantekwakyek@yahoo.com