Living with COVID-19
It has now been more than five months since COVID-19 has officially began spreading in this country. The amount of care taken to prevent oneself from the virus, the number of official safety measures implemented by the government and the level of fear of the virus among citizens can be described by a bell shaped curve. Currently, I think we are on the downward slope of the curve that comes after the peak. People are either getting tired of taking safety measures or are getting used to living with the virus. I think it’s more the latter than the former. I think we are approaching a time where the virus is considered like the common flu.
The past few days, I’ve been to a private hospital and got the chance to observe just how much health professionals are exposed to the virus in this country and are in turn exposing the rest of the population. The hospital is one of the best in the city and has every means to equip its facilities with the proper safety equipment. Yet, I have observed that nurses do not even wear gloves when treating patients. I expected that each time a nurse treats a patient he or she wears a glove that he or she immediately disposes once the patient has been treated. So with bear hands, they touch one patient and go to the next and to the next. One can imagine just how fast the virus can spread in this manner.
In my neighborhood, I have seen a group of neighbors gathering and playing volleyball on a daily basis, with children included. I get that we humans are social animals. But gathering in crowds and exchanging bodily fluids such as sweat and saliva in a situation that does not allow wearing masks is I believe a suicidal decision. People have just become careless and tired of isolating themselves. We hear that a large group of people got infected with the virus because they attended a funeral, but yet people still decide to go to funerals and the ceremonies that follow and expose themselves. I have personally seen a very long queue of cars parked by an Ethiopian Orthodox church for the very purpose of attending a funeral. I guess that most of us have this strong belief that we are immune to the virus unless it has finally happened to us.
Schooling in a time of COVID-19 is one of the most tricky things which I usually wonder about. A couple of days ago, the government announced that schools can start registration with the condition that appropriate safety measures are put into place. Registration is most likely going to take place in person. And I wonder how schools, and particularly government schools, are going to make sure that that all precautionary measures are put into place for the registrations. My worst fear is that the government is going to allow soon schools to open with physical attendances. Just because schools in the US and Europe have done it, it does not mean we should do it. I just cannot imagine the extent to which the virus is going to spread among students, and particularly among children, if the government makes this decision. My heart really goes to those parents who will have to send their children to school and am thankful I am not yet one of them. I think parents’ committees and others should do everything in their power to resist such decision of the government.
Life since COVID-19 is no longer the life we Ethiopians have long enjoyed thanks to our strong social bonds and frequent gatherings that made us Ethiopians. But I guess we need to live with the fact that that life is unlikely to happen soon. In the meantime, let us take care of ourselves and each other.