I dialed my mother’s number for the hundredth time and still no answer, to say I was frustrated is an understatement, I had tried calling all the neighbours who live close to her and all the people I could think of to have contact with her or any one who could help me get in touch with her but none answered either. This was unlike my mother or all the other people in my small village, if she misses my call, she calls back immediately she sees it. The only time I don’t get her is when her phone is switched off or when she is out of coverage area. But this time round, the phone rings without any answer. I didn’t know what to do or who to call again, I had two options, to either travel to my village and see what the issue was, or call the police to check up on her for me.
My location is over 700 kilometers away from home where my mother lives and it would take me about 18 to 20 hours to make the trip and I was not even sure if I could stay calm for that long to make the journey. Upon several deliberations and hesitations, I gathered courage and dialed the contact of the nearest police station in my village… To cut everything short, I finally got in touch with my mother and guess her reason for not answering her phone…they have been informed that there is a sickness – ‘virus’ in town and no one should touch their cell phones because if they do, they will get the virus and eventually die!!! I was totally shockprised!!! Yes, I was shocked and surprise at the same time, how could anyone be so gullible? And how could anyone even be so careless with information. This is what happens when people are pressing the wrong buttons and spreading false alarms. The situation may be alarming, from 6 cases last week, Ghana has now recorded about 19 cases (that is what we know of, there could be more or less).
Times are scary, CORONA VIRUS also known as CovID 19 is real and spreading across the world so fast, and so many videos, audios, print material on the virus are circulating on several social media platforms especially on whatsapp. It looks like the world is at a standstill now, some countries have closed down schools, and other institutions and have put a ban on social activities and any form of gathering. Such countries have also put in place regulatory measures to check the activities of market places, restaurants and shopping centers. Even transport services are been regulated to make sure people who are affected by the virus do not spread it to others since signs and symptoms will only show after 14 days. It is interesting to find many public places enforcing and encouraging hand washing. And as for the number of jokes and memes that have been created from this situation, counting them will be like counting the hair on my head. Sometimes it is sad that people who are literate and in a position to help others stay calm are rather spreading fear and panic.
There is limited information on preventive measures but many people are rather spreading information that is causing fear, panic and general unrest through out the world. I was discussing with one of my friends how to get the right information to people or maybe help people choose the right sources of information but it appears that at this point, one cannot even be sure where to get authentic information. People are creating fake accounts for institutions and organisations and putting all kinds of information on them that you even get more confused from some of these sources of information. Some of these things are so scary and can cause emotional trauma for some people even before they get affected (they may never get it too).
I am sure we have all heard the pieces of advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the health ministries of various countries on hand washing, use of alcohol based hand sanitizers, practice social distancing, avoiding touching face (very difficult one), practice respiratory hygiene, and seeking medical care early when you feel unwell. A lot of people are also using their social media platforms (facebook, youtube, twitter, instagram, whatsApp, etc) to share information. The virus can easily be picked from ATMs, light switches, toilet handles, door knobs, top of sanitizer bottles, keys, taps, car doors, windows handles, makeup equipment, electronic gadgets (phones, TV and AC remotes, chargers), lift controls, stairway rails, gym, wallet, purse, money, game control pads etc, try as much as possible to watch your use of these items/places and many more. But watchout!!! Information about these points of contact should not be misused – say don’t tell my mother in the village not to open her door, window, put on her TV, collect money, and so on, rather, tell her to do it but wash her hands after touching or using them.
Also watch the activities of your children especially those who are very young (I saw a little girl brushing her lips against a kiosk), I was like yuck!
Some of the rumours I have heard so far concerning this virus are that Africans cannot be affected by the virus because it cannot survive at a certain temperature, drinking alcohol (akpetesie) will kill the virus, there is no cure for you if you are affected by the virus, if you have ever taken chloroquine, you cannot be affected by the virus etc. We are told to wear masks (they are actually for people who have the virus or working closely with those with the virus) and gloves as part of preventive measures, but it doesn’t make any difference if you wear the same glove on your hand the whole day and touching everything and everywhere with it. MY MAJOR CONCERN HOWEVER IS WITH THE ISSUE OF HANDSHAKE AND SOCIAL DISTANCING, VERY IMPORTANT, PLEASE TAKE NOTE. Remember that the virus can also pass through the nose and eyes, my recommendation for ladies is that try and wear heavy makeup to avoid touching the face (because we are often more conscious of touching our faces when we have makeup on).
Individuals and organisations are already rolling out campaigns to sensitize people about CovID 19 especially those in rural communities on the virus, in as much as we want to help these people, let us give them the right information (if not sure of something or if in doubt, leave out). It is important to let people know that the disease is infectious but also let them know there is hope and there things to do to prevent them from getting the virus, this is the point we have to beat the prevention is better than cure drums louder. Let’s try as much as possible to stop spreading panic and fear but spread calm. Please try to stay safe, be careful when washing your hands because some of the hand washing points are places people can easily transfer the virus. For example if the water point is not automatic, one person touches the tap to turn it on, and touches it to close it, then walks away, you also come and do same, even though you have washed, you may be carrying other things from closing the tap. It is much better to have the one person turn the tap on and off if you can’t afford a tap with a sensor (nobody may tell you this anyway).
And please please be very sure about any information before you put it out, if you’re also putting any information out, you can add your contact details or source of information in case someone wants to verify. Try to send the message out in as many languages as possible because we never know who might need and when. Don’t take chances, we cannot even be sure what is the truth and what is not, don’t let anyone deceive you or dupe you in the name of CoVID 19, stay safe and healthy and remember that we are spreading calm and not panic. Lets fight Corona Virus together #spreadcalmnotpanic #staysafe #nohandshake #practicesocialdistance #stayhealthy #CovID19 #savealife CHEERS!!!