By: Israel Umoh
Death is a terminator of human life. It visits and takes away its prey. No one can question its intention or is able to reverse its visitation except God, the creator. Monarchs, peasants, the rich and the poor are equal before it. And they are equally afraid of it, a mystery to the human race.
So, man dreads death and anything that leads to it. The spiritually conscious believe that their pious works on earth serve as a passport to their eternal abode. Some aged people who having fulfilled their earthly assignments do not worry about it. Even some young people due to a frustrating life ‘want to go home and rest.’ But many especially those bubbling with life and unfulfilled aspirations and those who think they are unprepared for the heaven-bound journey are afraid of death.
Tell a man that death is lurking at a corner in Oron, he flees to Bakassi. Tell another that the ‘unwelcome visitor’ is heading to Calabar, the man parks his luggage and heads to Uyo. Where death visits without any prior warning, a man perhaps regrets and laments of untimely exit. And the bereaved with subdued humility accept the fate thus: God gives and He takes away.
However, the arrival of Coronavirus otherwise known as COVID-19, one of the janitors of death, on the shores of China, has created another panic in the world. The global concern is borne of the need to curtail the angst and vacuum caused by death.
In December 2019, Li Wenliang, a Chinese ophthalmologist, blew the alarm about COVID-19, yet the Chinese government thought it was a mere rumour and dismissed it with a wave of the hand. From the initial seven cases, Wenliang observed, many including him- the whistleblower has been killed by the virus.
Concerned about its adverse effects, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ph.D., World Health Organization (WHO) Thursday declared COVID-19 a pandemic, pushing the threat beyond the global health emergency.
The novel coronavirus, the first known to cause a pandemic, is said to have infected more than 118,000 people and killed more than 4,000 in 114 countries, numbers expected only to rise. As of March 16, The Guardian of London reported that 169,377 were confirmed patients while 6,512 have died so far.
In human history, cholera, bubonic plague, smallpox, influenza, and HIV/AIDS are some of the most brutal killers. And outbreaks of these diseases across international borders are properly defined as a pandemic, especially smallpox, which throughout history, killed between 300-500 million people in its 12,000-year existence.
Nigeria recorded its first case of Coronavirus on Friday, February 27. An Italian businessman had come into the country with the virus on February 24. So far, three cases have been confirmed in the country. To curtail it, President Muhammadu Buhari initially released N324 million and later N620 million for COVID-19 fight.
Not done, the federal government has imposed a travel ban on 13 countries including France, Germany, Spain, China, Japan, Iran, Italy, France, the USA, Germany, and the Republic of Korea, among others. Minister of State for Health, Adeleke Mamora said travellers from the affected countries will not only undergo secondary screening at the point of entry but also advised to self-isolate for 14 days on entry. All these are done to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The pandemic is a no-respecter of persons. President Donald Trump was tested negative for Covid-19. Trump had declared a national emergency on Friday, freeing up some $40 billion in disaster relief funds
Tom Hawks, a television actor and American two-time Academy Award winner was tested positive; Iran’s deputy health minister Iraj Harichi and UK health minister Nadine Dorries have been tested positive. Cristiano Ronaldo, the Juventus maestro was tested positive while Francisco Garcia, a 21-year-old Malaga player in Spain died of COVID-19. Major soccer competitions: EPL, Europa and EURO 2020 have been postponed for fear of the pandemic.
The cheery news from Nigeria is that a team of researchers led by a former professor of Pharmacognosy from the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Maurice Iwu had presented a plant-based patented treatment for COVID-19 to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.
This is why the Federal Government must not ignore Iwu’s proposal. Assuming the World Health Organisation wants to play politics with it, the Nigerian government must not join the politics of Professor Iwu’s new-found pandemic cure.
For instance, politics does not allow some experts to find a cure for malaria. Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, U.S. global malaria coordinator for the President’s Malaria Initiative identified politics as one of the biggest threats facing the global campaign to eradicate malaria.
Ziemer said “The U.S. effort has grown dramatically since it began in 2005, rising from $30 million that year to $670 million this year. Though the campaign has been global, with many key actors, U.S. support has been key, Ziemer said. Begun by former US President George W. Bush and expanded under President Obama, it has crossed the U.S. political divide and continued support is critical in the coming decades if malaria is to be counted among the handful of diseases that have been eradicated.”
During the advent of HIV/AIDS, Jeremiah Abalaka, a Nigerian medical doctor, claimed that he had a cure to the pandemic. No one, not even the Federal Government gave him a grant or a trial to come out with the purported cure. And the dream died and HIV/AIDS becomes a manageable disease.