COVID-19: WHAT IF THERE IS NO RETURN TO ‘NORMAL’? HERE IS WHAT NO BODY HAS TOLD YOU

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OPINION BY:
B. MUKALAZI

THE fight against the highly contagious Coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to define our daily lives.
With the President of Uganda instituting a second Nation-wide lockdown in a space of less than 18 months due to the rising Covid-19 cases and deaths, Ugandans appear to be currently living in a cruel limbo. And many are desperate to get back to their normal lives.
For some people, a return to normal would mean restored health and financial stability. To others, it’s a world of parties and gatherings, hugs and handshakes.
There’s nothing wrong with being optimistic and hoping for a more stable future but at this point, this may likely be a long-term fantasy.
If we thought that Covid-19 was like a short 120-minutes movie that was bound to end in a couple of weeks or months, we were dead wrong! As it turned out, this is a blockbuster movie series made up of endless episodes that are being released every passing day. Even if the economy returns to normal, human beings will not. From death and horror caused by the pandemic, I believe, there will be many deep, lasting social and psychological consequences including fear, depression and purposelessness among the citizenry.
By some measures, we will find wearing a mask to be just part of daily life. Shaking hands and embracing will become less common. And most of our daily interactions may start occurring virtually rather than physically.
In effect, our social systems may forever be altered. With a shaky healthcare system coupled with lack of a proper treatment plan for Covid-19, Ugandans have turned to steroids and other available medication, in form of both traditional and modern medicine. However, experts have warned that irregular and overuse of these steroids may cause severe infections and dwell unpredictable side effects. In fact, many people have been reported to be experiencing other health problems, including damaged lungs, kidneys, and other body organs, after their initial Covid-19 recovery. And much is still unknown about the long-term effects of the Covid-19 medications. This may cast doom on our life span in the years to come. In addition, some experts argue that whereas Covid-19 may eventually be eradicated, other diseases or pandemics are likely to occur in the nearby future. This could be partly explained by our encroachment on nature. In his new book, Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World, author and CNN host Fareed Zakaria contends that the Covid-19 pandemic can be thought of as nature’s revenge on human kind. According to Zakaria, the way we live now is practically an invitation for animal viruses to infect humans. The American Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that three-quarters of new human diseases originate in animals and this was the case for AIDS, EBOLA, bird flu, and swine flu. Realistically-speaking, prayers and positive thinking alone will not get us through this pandemic. But as Zakaria advises, people should listen to the experts (doctors and scientists) and the experts should also listen to the people. Through open debates, a strong consensus between both parties can be built.  As a country, we have gone through wars, plagues and economic shutdowns and yet the human mind has survived and flourished. Therefore, I have no doubt in my mind that we shall eventually beat Covid-19 but we have to adjust to the realities of the ever-increasing instabilities. We need to use the knowledge and experience garnered from this pandemic to embrace the new era that is unfolding. 

The author Mr. Mukalazi is the Country Director of Every Child Ministries Uganda. You can reach him at: bmukalazi@ecmafrica.org

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