Corona Virus

March 23, 2020

All schools have been shut down, offices shut down, places of worship shut down, markets shut down; there are a countable number of people on the streets, supermarkets are bare. We have never seen anything like this. When we learned of the epidemic, many people downplayed the seriousness of it and continued with their usual lifestyle. There were even rumors that Africans are immune to the disease, until one person tested positive, then 3 then 9; now we are at 16.

The entire country is almost at a lockdown, actually most of the remaining places have shut down today, public transport. too. When children were sent home, there was such an uproar from the parents; they did not want their children home because they did not know what to do with them. The thought of having the children home for more than a month caused parents to panic. Those who are due to sit their final exams are especially affected, but safety comes first, so all must stay home. There are schools that are offering online classes, but those are very few. Most of the government schools cannot afford to do that as the kids would need laptops and Internet which is not available in most homes. Those in International schools are taking online classes from Monday to Friday; they have IGCSE exams coming up soon. Those in the local system will sit their final Standard 8 and form 4 exams starting in October, so any time wasted will have a significant impact on their ability to prepare. The earliest schools will resume is at the end of April, as first term holidays were to commence at the beginning of April for three weeks.

We could possibly see the government extend the school terms when the crisis is over, so that the children can catch up on lost time.

Getting the children to adhere to self-quarantine is becoming a problem. Many are sneaking out and going to meet their friends; they have no sense of danger. The children in the slums do not understand social distancing. They all live in such close proximity to each other that creating distance is not possible, so they continue to live their lives the best way they know how. The government is urging all its citizens to observe basic hygiene, washing of hands and using sanitizers all the time. That is easy for the town folk, but those in the villages and slums do not have access to sanitizers, and water in the slums is a scarce commodity. It was such a relief to see water bowsers taking water to the slum dwellers as well as buckets for storing water to clean hands, washing detergent to be availed soon.

We solder on, praying that this crisis will pass, and our lives will get back to normal. The economy is definitely going to suffer, the factories are not operating as per capacity, and many people are being sent home to curb the spread of the virus. It is sad, however, to see people living their lives as if they are immune to this disaster. They are putting everyone else at risk; they need to stay home and leave the doctors to manage those that are infected. Ideally, those who have been in contact with those who have been infected need to check themselves into the hospital, so they can be properly managed, and those arriving from outside countries should self-quarantine to ensure they are not infected.  Those who are infected and sick certainly need to seek medical care.

We continue to pray that the infections stop, and people heal from the trauma imposed by this scare. On a positive note, this is a time for people to sit down and reflect on their lives, to see the value in family and things they hold dear. When something like this happens, people realize the need to be humane. We have seen donations being sent to those who do not have food, the schools are giving out free meals since being at home means many of the children miss out on meals due to poverty. The feeding programs actually help keep the kids at school.

This virus does not discriminate. We are all at risk. We can only pray that it goes away as fast as it came. God has seen us through so much in the past. People have now forgotten about the locusts which caused havoc in the country, this too shall pass….

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