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Opinions of Friday, 27 March 2020

Columnist: Kabu Nartey, Contributor

Kabu Nartey write: The coronavirus numbers & the covidiots

Kabu Nartey Kabu Nartey

The deadly bioweapon, covid-19, reached our shores on March 12. As of yesterday, March 26, all 132 cases confirmed were imported i.e brought into the country. Before this number, we started off at 2 cases, it moved to 3, then 5, 9, 25 and 68.

We as a people ( pragmatists and religious ) have come to a common point that, whether or not the president is on top of issues or he failed to close our borders in time, the situation can only be arrested through two things: One, shared responsibility between the state, our medical and research institutions and the citizens. Two, through fasting and prayers.

But as may be the case for many even in the cities, the grassroots met the noise about this disease with doubts. Some barely turned away and still haven’t turned away from the old ways of doing things.

As of March 17, I didn’t hear the slum discuss coronavirus. The irregular increases in the number of confirmed cases ( 2, 5, 9, 25, 32, 68, 132…) may have sounded like lotto numbers to some people in the slum. Some said the disease will never come to the slum because of the God we know whose generosity in the form of the sun could turn a ladleful of beans and gari into a bowl of ‘concrete’ for the entire brotherhood of the ghetto.

I visited the market as of March 18, and when they saw me wear a nose mask, I looked weird, out of the hood and an alien, so they said I stopped scaring the hood. They were sceptical if this “colonial virus” of the West truly exists and why the cases are only heard on radio and tv, and the ghettos haven’t recorded any yet.

Unfortunately and gradually, the national emergency call is catching up with the slum and the inner-cities. As of March 20, one could hear whispers among pockets of residents on how ravaging the disease has become all of a sudden. The local media’s consistent coverage succeeded in projecting the hard work by healthcare providers and the state. The news was forced into the hood, and eventually became an alarm to families The message grew louder after the national day of fasting and prayers on March 25.

However, there is still some level of indifference in the slums. Today as of March 27, some of the precautionary measures like social distancing and handshakes are still left for those in the offices to practise. The ghetto youth continues to give the ‘shoulder greetings’, sit closely in groups while hoping prophet TB Joshua’s prophecy of the virus varnishing today, occurs as revealed. The brotherhood continues to share the same cup and spoons believing the African virus cannot kill unless the God of the Ghetto says so.

The loose situation in the hood makes me shudder how a lockdown in the slum would look like. An architecture with no borders. Your room begins and ends in mine, and yours in another’s. Unfortunately, these hoods and inner cities aren’t homes to only the ghetto youth, they’re also homes to many old men and women who have lived there with their ancestry. In many slums, you should count at least two aged persons in every home. This breeds more chills because according to the science of the coronavirus, the aged are the most susceptible.

Indeed, I’m forced to believe God and Science haven’t forsaken the grassroots yet – if the first point of contact of the imported cases had been in the slums, the grassroots, alleyways and ghettos of La and Nima ( for instance), the number of deaths and infections would have been 100 times the current numbers.

But we must keep it so, away from community transmission. So whilst giving thanks to the God of the Slum, our people in the slums, grassroots ( in fact all of us, including the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) ought to be mindful of the new word in the internet glossary “covidiots”

Covidiots are people who are still dreaming in broad daylight. For them, coronavirus is not real because it’s yet to get to them. They ignore health advice and precautionary measures announced to keep them, their families and society safe.

They still indulge in compromising acts like shaking and shouldering when they meet. They hug, cough or sneeze without covering their mouths. They spit around, throw body fluids like urine behind their neighbour’s window. They still hold the view the disease came on its own, hence, it will leave on its own. They ignore basic cleanliness and safety measures to complement the state’s efforts. And the numbers of cases are taking the pattern of lotto numbers.