Coronavirus: A View From Malawi

CDC Map of Coronavirus spread

It's almost hard to remember what on earth we talked about before coronavirus took over literally everything... emails from website hosts are even informing customers what they are doing as a response. So as a blogger with an audience, I suppose I have to make a statement of sorts.

Crazy times, huh?

Alright, not as poignant as you'd expect a from a writer, but we're all off our game a little, aren't we?

As I write, I am fortunate enough to look outside my window and see that my community hasn't drastically changed... yet. There are precautionary measures and regular monitoring of ports of entry. Though testing has been done, there hasn't been any have have tested positive. Regardless, I can't help but to think of the scifi stories I have read and watched, where one gets to see the future through some story McGuffin or other, and decide if they will act to change that future or not. Though Malawi is currently in a politically complicated time, I would hope that protecting public health should come first above all. 

Every territory the coronavirus goes through, starting from China, through Asia, Europe and the United States, shows us what our potential future could be. We get to see who handled it better than others, and in the absence of most major sports events, the infection rate becomes some kind of morbid scoreboard. 

We observe how many of us cling to humour as a coping mechanism; not long ago World War 3 was a trending meme. We start to realise that perhaps the major complaints of our generation over the last couple of decade were relatively tame in regards to the hardships that have been suffered in the history books. That perhaps we have reached an end to the period of... not peace per se, but rather of largely localised problems. There has been a low level of general anxiety about something big enough to shake the whole system, something to remind us how small our planet it... China's problems are only days or weeks away from all of us, and that goes the same way for everyone else. 

Virus spread in sub-Saharan Africa has been the slowest (except for Antarctica's zero rate, since the continent has never been the biggest tourist destination), maybe due to to the heat at this time of year, maybe because of other factors - scientists are still uncertain. However, any slowing down of its march across the world should be taken as a relief, whilst not relaxing on preventative measures. 

So, what do we do?

I happened to have studied Disaster Risk Management in university. The consistent thing to note in any disaster is that it is usually human action/inaction that makes the Threat into a Disaster. President Donald Trump is the most famous recent example of a leader who spoke with recklessness, sometimes announcing things that were blatantly untrue. The UK's Boris Johnson went with what can be summed up as a "do nothing" approach. 

It is a stark reminder that leaders are not gods. They get scared, they freeze, and don't always act in the interest of the people. It's easy to criticise, then one goes quiet when reflecting whether or not they would do a better job in those difficult circumstances, or allow their own humanity to drive us into a corner of poor decision making.

I think we have come to a time when the focus must be on the community level. Leadership cannot help if none of us think like leaders, considering how our individual actions affect everyone else.

If your city is on shutdown, minimise your movement, especially if you feel sick. Use the hotlines provided. If you move among crowds of people, it doesn't take long to spread the virus to countless others unnecessarily. This means overwhelming the medical care services, and putting health care workers at a higher risk of catching it themselves. 

There is a strategy called Social Distancing, which has guidelines to keep a metre away from people as a general rule, in order to "flatten the curve". The curve refers to the graph which tracks the rate of infection over time. A slower rate gives the medical sector a better chance to handle it - to ensure there are enough beds, respiratory equipment and other resources needed to make people healthy again.  

If you are on shut down, try to collect seeds and plant food in your garden or community spaces, so people don't have to travel far to feed themselves. Not knowing how to start is no longer a reason, since YouTube can almost claim it's a university you can access by simply searching "How"

Make a concerted effort to keep your mental, physical and spiritual health up. Depression already has a widespread impact where many choose to end their lives based on the mere potential of a bad future. Now people have to deal with difficult things and changes that are happening in the present, which most have only heard of in spy novels, or thriller films. Even if you are on lock down, find an exercise you can do indoors, like aerobics, and cardio. This will have a positive impact on your mental health as well, driving more oxygen to the brain. 

(Image Credit)

Make time to focus your mind on something that is not related to the coronavirus. Keeping up with news is fine, but if you find yourself reading repetitive stories about things happening too far away from you to do anything about, this can take a toll on mental health. Studies show that poor mental health can also impact physical health and immunity - making you less able to fight off any virus or infection. So choose to absorb something positive - your favourite movies, comedy shows, or books (especially books). Connect with family and friends through conversation, games and just checking they are ok (make sure you maintain a one metre distance though). 

Whatever your faith or lack thereof, take a moment everyday to sit in quiet, releasing all control of everything that feels too big. Release it to a higher power, or even just release it by admitting "I can't do anything about this". Ask yourself/higher power what you can do something about, then let the thought go and relax. You may find that the answer comes to you effortlessly. If anything, it may remind you that you always have control over how you react to anything, and you don't have to give up that control to the news, or anyone else. A popular method by those with malicious intentions is to use fear to control your behaviour. If you can master releasing fear, you also take back control.  

And finally, most importantly, wash your hands every time you see a tap. 

Stay safe and show love. 
Your health is our health.

Here's some GOOD news so far:

📌 China has closed down its last coronavirus hospital. Not enough new cases to support them.

📌 Doctors in India have been successful in treating Coronavirus. Combination of drugs used: Lopinavir, Retonovir, Oseltamivir along with Chlorphenamine. They are going to suggest same medicine, globally.

📌 Researchers of the Erasmus Medical Center claim to have found an antibody against coronavirus.

📌 A 103-year-old Chinese grandmother has made a full recovery from COVID-19 after being treated for 6 days in Wuhan, China.

📌 Apple reopens all 42 china stores.

📌 Cleveland Clinic developed a COVID-19 test that gives results in hours, not days.

📌 Good news from South Korea, where the number of new cases is declining.

📌 Scientists in Israel likely to announce the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

📌 3 Maryland coronavirus patients fully recovered; able to return to everyday life.

📌 A network of Canadian scientists are making excellent progress in Covid-19 research.

📌 A San Diego biotech company is developing a Covid-19 vaccine in collaboration with Duke University and National University of Singapore.

📌 Tulsa County's first positive COVID-19 case has recovered. This individual has had two negative tests, which is the indicator of recovery.

📌 All 7 patients who were getting treated for at Safdarjung hospital in New Delhi have recovered.

📌 Plasma from newly recovered patients from Covid -19 can treat others infected by Covid-19.

Credit: Michael Mathis via PSG Rubenstein Drive


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