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Information critical to abate spread of COVID-19

Information critical to abate spread of COVID-19

With the coronavirus spreading globally, it is even more necessary to listen to the information disseminated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other concerned health organizations, attentively. The draconian measures installed by governments around the world, will abate community transmissions and the spread of the virus. Concerned bodies should work in tandem to provide the necessary information to the public, quickly, and the public should not focus on unverified information.

We can eliminate unnecessary fear and worry by being cautious and diligent. Avoiding places with huge crowds, avoiding body contact, avoiding travel, social distancing, aiding those people suspected to have contracted the virus go to hospitals, keeping good hygiene, disposing of rubbish properly etc. are some of the actions that can be taken as measures that help in decreasing the spread of the coronavirus and contain it. We have to stop spreading fake news or overblown information and actions that encourage discrimination and bias. In addition, information sharing should be central to stop the spread of the virus; by involving everyone in transparent discussions by sharing ideas on important issues that are a concern of the public at large.

Tracking the spread of the virus, Johns Hopkins University, on Friday reported 246,275 infections and 10038 deaths worldwide until The Reporter went to press. With Europe becoming the epicenter for the outbreak, has now overtaken China in deaths recorded; with Italy and Spain being the most affected. Many countries including Ethiopia have closed schools, nonessential meetings and sports; while Europe has went even further and put millions in mandatory lockdowns.

Now, what should be given attention to is that there have been high rate of recoveries from those that have contracted the virus. Even though this is a World health crisis, we can prevent the spread of the disease by following and implementing the guidelines set by concerned bodies. Hence, focus should be given to works that have proved to have worked elsewhere. High officials of the government, scientists and health experts that have information based on knowledge should guide the public go on the right path. More than before, the elderly, and those with hearing difficulties should be given aid and utmost care. People on every level have to aid in giving information to those with little access to it. We can only strive towards solutions, when there is growth in information sharing.

Some of the points that should be included in the information’s shared are the price increases by sellers taking advantage of the fear in people and the robbery committed in the name of disinfecting houses. Since the spread of the coronavirus starts with one person and is like a wildfire; the focus of the public should be on the information that passes through proper channels.

As it is known, in a country where poverty is rampant with people leaving in close quarters, congested backward public transport systems, lack of clean running water, inconsistent electricity, backward ways of collecting and disposing of trash, lack of good hygiene, and traditional greetings make conditions ripe for the virus to spread. Hence, we must pass this crucial period wisely.

While in the guise of thinking off and helping each other, we have to avoid actions that jeopardize the general public but instead pass these harsh times, by sharing relevant and timely information with each other. As things stand, if we cannot beat the virus with the information at hand; the coming period will be difficult.

It is good that the government has closed schools, bared meetings, halted sport activities etc. It is better for events held by organizers, religious institutions, political parties, music, theater, and the like, not to become a cluster of cases. From the information we have, most cases in the country are imported and hence, the government has the responsibility to manage this crisis and needs to exercise control. Thus by strengthening its air and land entry checkpoints, it needs to identify and transfer suspected cases to areas designated quickly. Nonchalance on entry points could befall many to illness.

The public has the duty to notify relevant bodies, without hesitation, anyone with high fever and dry persistent cough, or anyone hiding in fear of being stigmatized. If the society plays its role in a calm manner and information is disseminated, it will aid the fight against the spread of the virus. This can only bear fruit if the custom of info sharing is stronger than it is now.                

We do not need lies and rumors and those who view this as an opportunity to profit should be held accountable. The media should remind the government when the steps that should have been taken are late, and expose those who disseminate wrong info. 

Furthermore, this can be used as a starting point for future cases by encouraging info sharing rather than closing the doors on information and going against our rights to information. We can only decrease the spread of coronavirus by availing more information to the public.