FEATURE: CORONAVIRUS

By: Napoleon Ato Kittoe/www.africanakua.com, Ghana

It came without an announcement nor warning. Either from the firmament or generated in a Laboratory, it bore down in no other place than China for the beginning of what could well trigger deep going changes in global affairs, especially in human and international relations.

It proved mortally fatal on thousands of Chinese and since that country is so wired in the global system, not only did the occurrence switch attention there but also relayed the baton on the ignominy. 

Coronavirus in its most mystique expressions had arrived, wreaking havoc in China and exporting itself worldwide.

Soon, Iran was to be connected with the “magical” disease virus, with so much at stake. At this point, political scientists and other watchers of the global landscape had began to surmise whether this was not a biological warfare waged by enemies of the two. However, this thinking grounded in economic race involving China and attempts to curb alleged Iranian nuclear programme, was not pointed outwards.

There has not been anytime in history than now, seeing the United States ratchet up the campaign on both strands, China and Iran. When the virus extended its reaches to Europe, dragging a whole Italy to the depths of this pit of hell, other ideas began to race at each other on minds. It was extermination in heartland of Italy and before one could say jack, other advanced countries in Europe were also swimming in it. The Italians famed for their masonry, had no clues in this collision, despite their brawn for giant construction.

That the United States failed to issue a word at North Korea when the latter tested ballistic missiles in the North China sea against international injunctions, is indicative the world super power was itself consumed by the hideous insects called coronavirus, gnawing at nations. The US has issued spending money of about two trillion dollars as a social safety net or backbone. Mitch O’Connell, the Republican senate majority leader equalled the amount to wartime expenditure.

Yes, this is a war that defies conventional warfare and opens up other realities long forgotten by the scheming actors of the world.

Coronavirus has levelled the field and brought humanity to the shrilling consciousness of their commonality, of being in the line of a danger not pointed at other mammals but humans only.

Acting like an amoral force and therefore with the effect of mechanical locomotive, the pandemic pounds anything it finds in its way, much less respecting the rich, the powerful, medical professionals, soldiers and everybody. Even priests have died.

The malady has not drawn a line between the world’s aristocratic order and the anonymous masses, thus like the angry ghost that knows no physical barriers, the virus cheekily entered out-of-bounds spaces and sent tongues wagging. The British Royal House, Nigeria’s Aso Rock, Canada’s Prime Minister’s home are among high places of this invasion. The US President and the German Chancellor are among other notable figures who frantically went for tests to set their minds at ease and to set healthy examples for all others to follow the disease containment protocols.

No other actionable chest counts at this stage except to be the individual that one is and follow the rules. Beyond that, the UN is calling for solidarity among nations to act in concert to contain the virulent virus. Solidarity is a far-fetched word for now as all nations are diving for cover in all directions.  Coronavirus was to become the most potent ammunition against the global village, disconnecting the international system of bonds that held it together.  International travel seen as conduit of disease spread has largely been banned or flights reduced, as nations close land borders and airspaces. Those who find their way to other shores are suddenly quarantined, regardless of their knowhow or special skills.

This episode of biological predator versus cut edge technology manifests itself in another form. It shows how the mortal weakness of man buckles up to disease, with centrifugal effect on global order. At same time, cut edge technology only remains in force, for as long as it connects the world in abstract terms, where minds and not physical encounter becomes the norm.

In Africa, nations like South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, which are major transportation hubs have seen their cases growing. While Europe, South Africa, Kenya and China are on complete lockdown, others are climbing that direction gradually.

In developing world, those to be negatively affected by any lockdown are the poor who eke out mere existence. They have not got the means to stock up supplies against any lockdown. Matters arising  throws up the question as to whether national governments or the international system, either by conventions or written laws, may have to embrace socialist tendencies just because contingencies could arise and there would be need for the state to offer a big hand. Already, some of the champions of free market economies or capitalism which also serves its own useful purpose in other given situations, have adopted socialist responses to the epidemic emergency. 

State’s direct role in individuals’ lives is sacrosanct and inalienable. That cannot be exchanged with the private sector. Coronavirus offers an opportunity for global decision makers to pull down the walls on ideological enclaves and to perhaps begin to accept the fact impressed by realities, that we need a hybrid of the two extremes to govern this world. This cold war waged in the past brought in its wake the arms race, the threat of war and actual confrontation. With some of the western powers reeling from the coronavirus, the country that is focal point of increasing international isolation on this plane, was tickled by humanitarian considerations to send supplies to hard hit Italy. It is interesting to have found Communist Cuba in the theatre, usefully deploying her doctors to assist where necessary. Lessons:  isolation probably built a resilience and fend for yourself spirit for self reliance.

Agricultural produce is needed to shore up households in societies facing a lockdown. To boost human immunity against the pandemic, agricultural produce must be consumed. The sector would be the last pole standing when all other alternatives have to be sacrificed in the face off with the fatal coronavirus. This is why agriculture would remain the bedrock of nations. It must be re-emphasised and innovated to bring relief to humanity.

The Agricultural sector would be the last pole standing when all other alternatives have to be sacrificed in the face off with the fatal coronavirus.

Certain things we take for granted has suddenly become cornerstones of survival. Poor personal hygiene and socially unacceptable mannerisms are now being held down.  Nature has forced down circumstances on people who were otherwise adamant and ignored  exhortations to good moral behaviour. 

Developing countries that devote tiny percentages of budget allocations to research must by now be doing some rethinking. It must not always be the case that the rich, advanced countries with superior medical knowhow which must take the lead in research and hand down results. Other nations should show a little more seriousness about research and to independently respond to emergencies. With no particular vaccine in the offing, coronavirus reigns supreme, at least for now.

It thrusts to the fore, the world of social inequalities and injustices. The effect of these phenomena are the panic and pandemonium engulfing the world in the wake of COVID 19, the other name of coronavirus.  These inequities related to resource allocation, rings the bell on a chunk of the world’s population as death roars ready to hand tickets such as hunger and inaccessibility to healthcare.

If global decision makers do not take care, the secondary factors may execute the fatalities, leaving coronavirus in the armchair comfortably laughing.

A man walks past a large banner promoting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Monday, March 23, 2020.

Japan which was to host the now postponed 2020 Olympics, is the only island state struck by coronavirus.  Aside from them, other islanders are fine, in absence of overland international borders. The inference here is that, international travel is the active vector spreading the morbid fear.

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Napoleon Ato Kittoe is a senior journalist with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).

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