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Covid-19: Theories, fiction and the supernatural

Monday March 30 2020
By BITANGE NDEMO

Most people are very creative and are capable of coming up with new and useful ideas that make their organisations appear creative. What separates creative and non-creative organisations is leadership.

Amid Covid-19, social media is replete with many theories, fictions and supernatural arguments on the management of this pandemic. Some posts are simply annoying but if you are patient enough, you begin to see a helpful pattern.

The World Health Organization has said that Covid-19 and influenza viruses have a similar disease presentation.

They both cause respiratory disease and present themselves in a wide range of illness from asymptomatic (you have the virus but no symptoms) to mild through to severe disease and death.

MILD DISEASE

Many of those who have been diagnosed with the disease and are either asymptomatic or have a mild disease have in the past few months narrated how they managed the disease. A collection of 50 different testimonies reveals a pattern that is worth our attention.

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They have said that you will need the following simple procedures: A paracetamol to help to lower the temperature and reduce pain, a cough syrup to possibly thin the mucus that might congest the lungs (honey and lemon could aid), constantly hydrate yourself, apply direct steam into the nostrils and socially distance yourself from other folks. This is what we often do to manage ordinary flues.

Data from previous sources show that about 80 percent of people with coronavirus have either mild or no symptoms. At least 20 percent will require hospitalisation and at least five percent will require intensive care unit (ICU) services.

LEADERSHIP
The death rate still hovers between two and four percent, depending on leadership and of course which country you live in. Germany, for example, has the least death rate in spite of having a similar population profile to Italy’s.

For planning purposes and given our context, governments need to emphasise social distancing to delay a crisis. Any influx of patients could easily overwhelm the entire healthcare system.

There are those advancing theories around climate and the disease but there is no study so far to validate their claims. If it were the case, India should not be in the state it is in. We should plan as though we are the next in line after China, Europe and the US. In any case our ‘winter’ is in the corner.
There are many unknowns with coronavirus. Whilst in China it took a toll on the older generation and mostly those with underlying factors, in the US it has taken a different turn taking toll on younger people.
It is fictitious to assume the Chinese data applies everywhere. At least 50 percent of the affected in New York are below 44 years. With such variations, we should develop a response strategy that assumes both scenarios.
In such a case, those modelling the disease trajectory should factor in a greater need of such supplies as ventilators. We could have done with perhaps 1,000 ventilators, given that people of over 70 years in our population is small.

With the emerging variations, we may require more supplies. It is not possible to acquire 2,000 ventilators but we can make do with ingenuities like leveraging open source models to build capacity that can provide ventilator-like solutions.

We should arm engineering students with 3D printing machines to try to develop these ventilator-like products. They provide same outcomes as ventilators. A ventilator in Kenya is priced at Sh2 million, which is way beyond what we can reasonably afford if thousands of people were to end up in ICU.

DESPERATE INTERVENTION

The state of New York is trying to use one ventilator for two patients, a desperate invention by Italians.

It was disturbing to watch a neighbouring the president of a neighbouring country advance his own theory that people should congregate in churches since God cannot allow coronavirus in Church. He perhaps missed the fact that South Korea heavily paid the price of congregating in church.

When the leader retracted the following day, he made it worse by asking his people to prioritise the economy first before health. Perhaps he needed to read Proverbs 22:3 which says “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” This is a penalty he will have to pay.

One of the videos titled, Nature is the Great Experimenter by Sudarshan Patra that has gone viral assumes that supernatural powers are out to finish humanity for their sins. She passionately argues that nature discards the species that does not support the whole. It has done so in the past.

The Dinosaurs and Neanderthals were discarded and nature could discard humanity because of their cruelty to other animals and not supporting the whole. While other specie kills for food, we humans kill for pleasure or to prove our superiority over the rest. Thus, disconnecting ourselves from the whole.

SCIENTIFIC PROOF

Some may argue that there is no scientific proof in supernatural assertions. Well, if you buy such an idea then you are disconnected from your own consciousness given the fact that scientists are warning us on climate change.

We saw the fires in California, Australia and floods in South America as well as drought in Southern Africa all attributed to climate change. We are likely to decimate ourselves.
With or without science, these ideas from many people tell us something. It is that leaders must collect all the cries, collate them and decide the best course of action. That is the essence of creativity and innovation.
It is not a coincidence that Isaiah 26:20, written tens of centuries ago, gives a very current message, “Go home, my people, and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the Lord’s anger has passed.”

The writer is a professor of entrepreneurship at University of Nairobi’s School of Business.

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