Opinion: Lessons from the coronavirus pandemic – By AYO OYOZE BAJE
All so suddenly the coronavirus pandemic has given meaning to the assertion of ‘a global village’ just like modern technology has turned the world into. The panic it spreads is like a raging wildfire! Economic activities have entered the whirlwind vortex in a tailspin. Airlines are folding their wings. The world of entertainment has suddenly lost its glam. Sporting arenas have been shaken into ghost cities, as once-crowd pulling activities have shut their glitzy gates on soccer-loving men and women. Cinema houses have been silenced. They are now nostalgic about “Silent Rage”(1982),“Silence of the Lambs”(1991),) and even “Dead Silence”(2007), if you get my drift.
In fact, the golden boys of the music world, such as the Wizkids, the Davidos and Burna Boys, are no more smiling, even with their golden teeth and their diamond-decorated garments, as they used to. Oh, how utterly wicked this coronavirus could be!
According to the World Health Organisation, no fewer than 200,000 cases of coronavirus have now been reported to WHO and 8,000 people have lost their lives. Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, has disclosed that more than 80 per cent of all cases are from two regions – the Western Pacific and Europe. “We know that many countries now face escalating epidemics and are feeling overwhelmed”. That is saying it as it really is.
For instance, COVID-19, has already killed more than 3,100 people in China. It may have cost China as much as 1.38 trillion yuan ($196 billion) in the first two months of the year. This is as a result of huge dips in consumer spending and tourism, according to a former senior executive with the International Monetary Fund, Zhu Min.
The United States Congress has approved an $8.3 billion emergency spending package to help agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fight the spread of the virus, while President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency to free up billions more in funding.
In Italy, the country that is the most impacted so far in Europe by the virus, more than 16 million citizens are under quarantine in its northern industrial heartland. Also, more than 360 people have died and more than 7,000 have tested positive for the virus.
The Italian government has pledged to spend 7.5 billion euros ($8.5 billion) to reduce the economic impact of the outbreak. However, further economic stimulus could be underway.
As for the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, appointed finance chief last month, told the UK Parliament that there would be £7 billion ($9 billion) available to support the labour market and an additional £5 billion to help the health-care system. Sunak also announced a further fiscal loosening of £18 billion to support the U.K. economy.
In Nigeria, schools are being shut, churches and mosques have their number of worshippers trimmed to 20, the Senate has closed public hearing and the Central Bank of Nigeria is rolling out palliative measures.
But out of every bad situation there is always a silver lining in the clouds, for those who care to look up to God with unwavering hope. People across continents, including atheists are turning back to God. The Donald Trump-led United States government was compelled to declare not only a state of emergency, but also a Day of Prayer on March 15, 2020 against the pandemic.
Like it or not, the pandemic is bringing out the best in man, which is nothing but love. For instance, China’s richest man and founder of e-commerce company Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, has donated 20,000 coronavirus test kits to each and every African country. Incredible, isn’t it? Ma’s generosity reportedly also comes with 100,000 masks and 1,000 protective suits and shields for each of the 54 countries. The tech billionaire’s donations came on the back of having given the United States some 500,000 test kits.
Recently, too, Cristiano Ronaldo, the global soccer superstar of Italy’s Juventus Football Club expressed concern over the spread of coronavirus. He said, “The world is going through a very difficult moment, which demands the utmost care and attention from all of us. I speak to you today, not as a football player, but as a son, father, a human being concerned with the latest developments that is affecting the whole world. There were unconfirmed reports that he will transform the hotels he owns in Portugal into hospitals to help in the fight against the coronavirus.
And what about one of Africa’s soccer pearls, Sadio Mane, the Senegalese striker with Liverpool Football Club? He has donated $50,000 to Senegal’s National Medical Commission in the frontal battle against coronavirus.
Good enough, similar heart-warming acts of generosity are playing out in the United States, courtesy of basketball superstars. Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner, said he would work on getting arena employees paid while they wait for the games to return and they go back to work.
Not left out of the uncommon spirit to give in moments of human need such as this, reigning NBA MVP, Antetokounmpo, announced he would give $100,000 to workers at the Milwaukee Bucks Fiserv Forum. Cleveland Cavaliers forward, Kevin Love, committed $100,000 to the team’s arena workers and support staff.
So, what are the lessons for man to learn from all these magnanimous acts? Let us go Biblical. Proverbs 19:17 (NIV) states that:“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.”Hebrews 13:16 admonishes us thus:”Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”.
Furthermore, Matthew 5:42 also states: “Give to everyone who asks you for something. Don’t turn anyone away who wants to borrow something from you”.
And to cap it all, Psalm 41:1-3 should inspire us: “Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The LORD rescues them when they are in trouble. The LORD protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies. The LORD nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.” What more should we ask for?
Another lesson for man is that nothing of significance ever happens to us as individuals, communities and countries without some warning signals. But man is too busy in trying to satisfy his whims and caprices than listening to the voice of God. That is why He says in Hosea 4:6: ”My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me.”
Perhaps, political leaders should have taken Nostradamus, the ‘man who saw tomorrow’ more seriously. He wrote in 1551 that there will be a twin year (2020) from which will arise a queen(coronavirus) who will come from the east (China) and who will spread a plaque (virus) in the darkness of the night, on a country with seven hills (Italy) and will transform the twilight of men into dust (death), to destroy and ruin the world. It will be the end of the world economy as we know it today.
Also, an extract from the 2008 book, ‘End of Days’ by psychic Sylvia Browne who died in 2013 predicted that: “In around 2020, a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatment.”
With the coronavirus pandemic, the so-called world leaders should spend more on providing food security, quality health care and education delivery, instead of wasting trillions of hard-earned resources on acquiring arms and ammunition to kill fellow human beings in wasteful wars. Punch
Baje is a former Editorial page editor of the Daily Times