When the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit the world like a tornado or even worse, primitive fear overtook humanity to a level unprecedented in modern times. Because of the pains, anxiety and losses that accompanied it, as well as the crash of living, literarily speaking, the tendency has been to perceive everything related to it as also bad and intolerable. To an extent, that is correct.
But it is also possible that the reaction is a reflection of the dread the virus which has, as yet, no cure induced in humanity as a whole. It is in this context that agencies and individuals are beginning to analyse the development, especially what happened during the lockdown, as frightening as the situation was at the peak of the crisis.
It is observable that in the aftermath of the lockdown, stories of things untoward and unacceptable are dominating analysts’ investigations and reports on how the people managed their lives while the forced stay at home, stay safe lasted. The tendency has been to unravel the side effects of the lockdown as a result of the pandemic that are not so edifying. That is to be understood from the point of view of the disorganisation and dislocation the outbreak of the virus caused around the world and the deaths that followed. How economic and social lives as the people knew them changed and may remain so for a long time bringing up what is now the new normal.
We need to point out that such reports, expectedly, devote time and energy in meticulously bringing to the fore issues such as rape, domestic violence and incest. A particular report indicate that 3,600 rape cases took place during the period. To all intents, this is probable when it is considered that no one actually did the counting. Nor, for that matter, witnessed them. It could be more as rape, because of socio-cultural inhibitions, are not easily and freely discussed in the open. The report must be referring to the cases that the victims had the courage to disclose.
This newspaper has always been in the forefront of campaigns against the heinous crime. What we are against in this instance is the tendency to celebrate the crime or make it look as if it began with the lockdown. Domestic violence like wife and husband battering have always been regulars in societies while incest cases involving fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters were rife. There is no denying the fact that there may have been an increase in the numbers.
It is incontestable that these anti-social behaviours certainly did rear their ugly heads to take undue advantage of the pandemic-induced seclusion and occurred at a rate that is more than the usual. Still, many families thanked the lockdown for the rare opportunity it provided their members to truly bond. Children had their parents full time, husbands and wives enjoyed quality time.
That raises the next issue that is, on all scores, positive and which means that under COVID-19 something good actually happened. Health authorities are optimistic that next year will witness a baby boom as a result of the lockdown and the bonding.
What this reveals is that COVID-19 is not all about ill-health and death. While there are sordid tales to tell, there are also side effects that are emotionally elevating. The lockdown encouraged people to be creative. Some small businesses sprang up to provide services that are COVID-19 compliant. For instance, COVID-19 brought a resurgence of trade in local fabrics such as cotton and polypropylene in order to manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Many learnt to produce face mask, overalls and hand sanitisers that generated income. These businesses are likely to outlive COVID-19. For certain, that is a positive derivation from the disease.
COVID-19 turned ginger, lemon, elephant and dogon yaro into plants sought after for their therapeutic benefits against the pandemic. Trust the ingenuity of the average Nigerian, these plants have become economic crops. There is added value that turns them into drinks one can take on the move as even orthodox medicine practitioners recommend them as possible anti-dote to the dreaded virus.
Without COVID-19 who would have imagined that one can work from home and still be effectively productive. Zoom became a tool of business and inter-personal communication that bridged the gap in a most profound manner. That is not likely to end even if a cure is found for the pandemic. COVID-19 brought home the fact that, indeed, the world is a community of human beings. Even in an environment of inadequate supply of basic necessities, people shared the little they had, everyone looked out for everyone else. It brought out the fragrance of philanthropy.
In our considered opinion, if the world can learn the lessons of COVID-19, there will be enough for everyone’s need and not enough for the greedy.