Corona virus. It is the only thing one can possibly talk about this week. The media is all about it. At home, we are all talking about it. Some of us are on a lock down at home. Some are making a business out of corona. Like they say, a problem for one is an opportunity for another. As much as money is lost, money is made owing to Corona.
One thing that amazed me is the incomparably limited spread of the virus in Africa, and most specifically black Africa or sub-Sahara Africa compared to the rest of the world. We all know the virus is mainly contracted through physical contact or physical proximity if and when people cough or are sneezing. And amazingly, here is sub-Sahara Africa is the place where social distancing is the least practiced. Like my aunt once said, going in a mini-bus taxi or a Higer bus in Addis exposes one to be hugged by another involuntarily. I just wonder, does the limited spread of the virus in sub-Sahara Africa got to do with our African genes, our weather, or the fact that the majority of the population is constituted by youngsters? No matter the reason, we sub-Saharan Africans seem to be at an advantage when it comes to Corona.
Or is it the fact that our monitoring and tracking systems are not as advanced as the rest of the world’s, and therefore we have limited data on the extent of the spread of the virus? It is only now after we heard about the first case of corona virus announced in Ethiopia and the announcement of the closure of schools that people started panicking in Ethiopia. The lines of people buying sanitizers, alcohol and face-masks at pharmacies are evidence of this. But still, the fact that the spread of the virus is limited in the country compared to the rest of the world is distracting people from taking the required precautionary measures. People are still going to work and to religious places. Many people in taxis are not seen wearing face masks and even opening windows when commuting in a taxi. The measures taken by Ethio Telecom in repetitively creating awareness about the virus should be appreciated. Although it may feel irritating to hear about Corona each time we make a phone call, it is really for the best of the people.
Although all the measures taken to inform people about the numbers of corona cases in the country, create awareness about precautionary measures on the media, and to close schools should all be appreciated, I still have a great deal of doubt on the government’s capability to control the virus. Our way of life here in Ethiopia is just isn’t the kind of way of life that makes the control of the virus an easy one. Few weeks back for instance, I went to buy some vegetables and fish from ‘Atekelt Tera’, the largest vegetables market in Addis. The sight of the place just makes you laugh at all the precautionary measures that are being promoted on the media. First of all, the place is too congested with people. Secondly, the sanitary conditions of the place makes it an ideal place for the flourishing of the virus. The people trading there have no place in their minds to think about washing their hands each time they are in physical contact with other people, putting on sanitizers or putting on face-masks. Thinking of all the people in Addis who live on the streets and slums, it makes me wonder how on earth the country would be able to control the virus if its transmission was as fast and wide as in the rest of the world. And besides, I also wonder if the government expected the spread of the virus to be controlled within two weeks when it announced the closure of schools for two weeks. I wonder what it had in mind when fixing the closure period?
Anyway, with all being said, let’s keep on doing what we can do best.