The COVID-19 pandemic rages on , affecting all aspects of society- health, financial, movement and getting down to our relationships and choices. All of us are longing for the world we know and yet we know that it will definitely be a new Normal.
The majority of people in the world are under some form of lockdown to control the spread of the virus in communities and to ensure that that health care systems do not get overwhelmed by the number of patients. It happened in Italy, Spain, UK, New York right before our eyes. No government would want to see it happen in its country.
In Uganda, as of last night, we were in day 8 of the lockdown and a curfew from 7pm to 7am. The total number of confirmed cases was 61 of which 51 had been treated and discharged. Thankfully, we had not suffered any deaths among the cases or the health workers. The strict lockdown is set to continue until the 5th May 2020. We all hope and pray that the numbers of cases will not surge to warrant an extension of the lockdown and curfew. The government has done a commendable job in adhering to the advice of WHO and health professionals in the Ministry of Health and Uganda Virus Research Institute as well as supplying food to the most needy around the city. Digital technology has made it easy to collect information and data which is then analysed to determine the next course of action and to keep the public well informed and part of the control plans.
I have come to trust the face and words of Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health and to appreciate the dedication and heavy burden on the health workers who are at the frontline of this battle. They have energetically tapped into their experiences of managing the Ebola epidemics of the recent past.
Citizens and professional all alike, our priority now is to protect ourselves from this invisible enemy, survive the lockup and move into the New Normal.
We are confined to our homes knowing very well that the environment always sets the rules and we have to live by those rules. In these confined spaces, we are forced to learn to be alone ( in some cases)or be congested , to be quieter and to entertain ourselves.
These are difficult but temporary times so we live one day at a time under a cloud of uncertainty. Under such environment, each one of us has on purpose to tap into the child in her/him to be able to make a game out of this lockdown . It is the only way to keep mentally, physically and emotional in top shape.
I remember some years back, one of my sons misbehaved and I punished him by locking him up in an empty room. He went in screaming but within a few minutes he was strikingly quiet. Like a monkey, he had climbed over the burglar proofing of the second door and was looking at the people passing by in the road. He was enjoying it! He had turned a punishment into a game!
Children approach any situation with spontaneity and openness. We cannot allow ourselves to stagnate during this lockdown; time once lost, it cannot be recovered.
With childlike enthusiasm, we have to explore and create some laughter, fun, adventure and colour in our confined spaces. The child in each one of us never goes away though as we grow up, we tend to be too focused on the past or the future to be fully open and spontaneous. Lockdown time should give us an opportunity to regain what is natural to each of us as children. We would all be alive if we responded creatively and anew to each new experience.
It is time to talk, laugh, play music, write, read, cook , paint, to do gardening or a DIY around the house or anything daring or outrageous to break the routine. Do it with childlike abandon with no sense of guilt. Take one day at a time. Do it on purpose; it will help you adjust to this temporary and difficult time. The complaining and whining will only make an already difficult time worse.
While researching for material for this post I came across some encouraging quotes that can uplift us.
- “ God put rainbows in the clouds so that each of us – in dreariest and most dreaded moments- can see a possibility of hope.” Maya Angelou
- “ Acting from a negative attitude attracts more negativity in your life. It’s your life; live it well.”- Judge Judy Sheindlin
- “You may chain my hands, you may shackle my feet, you may even throw me into a dark prison; but you shall never enslave my thinking, because it is free.’’ – Kahlil Gibran.
- “In life you either choose to sing a rainbow, or you don’t. Keep singing.” – Catherine Lory
- “There comes a point in life when you realize that your darkest times are your best times, too- you will see the rainbow of your life.” Roy Bennet
- “My parents survived the Great Depression and brought me up to live within my means, save for tomorrow, share and don’t be greedy, work hard for the necessities in life. Knowing that money does not make you better or more important than anyone else. So, extravagance has been bred out of my DNA.”- David Suzuki
- The greatest generation was formed first by the Great Depression. They shared everything- meals, joy, clothing. – Tom Brokaces
- “ It took capitalism half a century to come back from the Great Depression.” – Ben Shapiro
- “Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.” – Raymond Lindquist
- “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.”– Wayne. W. Dyer
11.“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. ” – George Bernard Shaw
12. “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” William Arthur Ward.
13. “ True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” Leo Tolstoy
14.“ All things are difficult before they are easy.” – Thomas Fuller
15. “ Delays are valuable challenges. Stop complaining and whining instead exploit them to create a rainbow. The rainbow will show up.” –Anonymous.
As we wonder when the COVID-19 pandemic will end, how it will end and how it will change us and our world, we have to understand that the COVID-19, Corona virus Disease, will not just disappear, instead it will become part of our lives. We just keep hoping that the drugs to treat it and the vaccine to control it will be discovered sooner than later, to help us go on with our lives.
In 1978, I took six months of internship in the paediatric department of the New Mulago Teaching hospital . To my shock and horror, I recognised that a minimum of ten children under five years of age were dying of the viral infection , Measles, and its complications. Each time I was on duty in the Acute Care Unit, I would leave the place shaken and crushed in spirit. That was one reason why I could not specialize in the care of infants, children and adolescents- Paediatrics.
WHO archives show that in 1980, before the widespread vaccination of Measles , the disease caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year in the world. Amazingly , by 2015, due to the widespread use of the safe and effective vaccine, the highly infectious viral infection caused an estimated 134, 200 deaths worldwide , most of them in the under five children. The vaccine had reduced the deaths caused by measles by 79%! The Global Vaccination Action Plan targets a 90 % immunization coverage. The current Immunisation coverage of measles in the under five years in Uganda is about 82 % while Botswana has an Immunisation coverage of all childhood diseases of 97 %. In the two decades I worked in the Primary Health Care department of Botswana, I only saw two cases of Measles and they were mild. I picked them quickly due to my haunting experience in the Paediatric department in Mulago.
Companies in USA, UK, Israel , China and other countries are working round the clock to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. It is encouraging to hear that trials in human beings have started in USA and UK. Normally it takes years to develop any safe, effective vaccine but thanks to the new technology like genetic sequencing, the vaccine to this new vaccine may take 6 to 18 months!
Before we know it, we could be walking around with a mild infection of CODIV-19.
Meanwhile , let us keep ourselves safe and others safe. We all stand to gain from this strict lockdown.
What is the biggest challenge that you face every day during this COVID-19 Lockdown? How have you tried to solve it ?
Please stay safe and stay healthy.