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EDITORIAL

COVID-19: Misinformation will help nobody

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 THESE are harsh times for the entire humanity. Nations and businesses are going into lockdown, induced by rampaging novel coronavirus plague. Despite concerted efforts at global and national levels to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented damages on economies, many people in Nigeria knowingly or unknowingly fuel the scourge by their attitudes.

While some display mindsets of sheer skepticism or complacency, others engage in downright sabotage.

FOR INSTANCE, many were indifferent when COVID-19 started its global spread from China until it torched off ‘wild fire’ in places such as Italy, Spain and United States among others. Even when Nigeria recorded her first index case, not a few were indifferent.

That is why rather than marching down first feet forward, national regulatory agencies were in  dilemma over the reactions trailing the news of the first positive case .  Hence, where proactive response should be mounted to ensconce Nigeria from the affliction, beginning from cities and towns contiguous to airports and other international entry points, lethargy took better part of the actions and  strategies.

PERHAPS, it was this scenario that set tone for conspiracy theories that not only found their way into the dynamic but also aggravate the public apathy.

IT IS lost on nobody that another sable cost of living in a post-truth era as the present world order has become is that objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief in the new order have been  constant firestorms of conspiracies and fake news that overwhelm the real issue to the extent that lies become the norm.

This explains why COVID-19 quickly became rallying point for merchants of machinating propaganda, mind manipulation and theories who saw fertile grounds for their odious communications.

AT LAST count, over six snitches are trending on various social media outlets – each pouring petrol into what is obviously a global wild fire. For those behind that dark art, it is time to take their own pound of flesh from an insensitive  political system they loot and had sworn to discredit at all cost. 

In COVID-19, they got a handle for  distracting or diverting people’s interest away from what governments are doing to save an already bad situation.

One of the snitches chose to play on masses’ emotion by questioning how governments that fail on her primary role of social service and job porovision to the people could suddenly become so interested in securing the same people from a virus they claim is an invention or artifice. Another snitch cites COVID-19 as  a weapon of ethnic cleansing.

BUT this is not time for politics. The tragedy here is that such offensive communications have  found comfort zones among gullible citizens who are going to bank on the outright falsehood and misinformation and endanger themselves as well many more people  who  are aloof to safety and preventive measures rolled out by regulatory agencies for the fight against the virus.

IN MANY markets and public spaces, many Nigerians not only waltz freely  without protective kits and discourage their associates from taking appropriate action. Many are still waiting until they are  driven out of  public gatherings of more than 30 or even 50 persons .

Those that are complying are made subjects of mockery, tantrums and tirades as if those skeptics have any natural armour that makes their body impenetrable for an irate killer as fatal as the COVID-19 pandemic.

BUT toeing this skeptical line and maintaining that a talk of COVID-19 disease is unreal advertises crass ignorance that is the core of their naivety. Propagators of those skepticism and people who are so naive to believe them should ask themselves why every country, from Europe to America to Asia to Africa and beyond, is going into lockdown at this critical time in a year if COVID-19 is a hoax.

They should ask themselves why such a money spinner as the  Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the European football season were suspended  at its peak moment or why other items on the year’s social calendar were shelved till further notice or why will President Muhammadu Buhari declare curfew in Lagos and Ogun States as well as Abuja Federal Capital Territory.

 THIS is time for solidarity not political witch-hunting or tomfoolery.

MAYBE because COVID-19’s incubation period is as  long as two weeks  and people do not often see their neighbours struck down, a sort of breeding ground is made available for speculation. But daily update on new case toll around the world easily puts a lie to such sentiment.  

THIS is why we reason that buyers and believers in such falsehood deliberately opt to dwell in fake news. They deliberately wallow in ignoring government warnings and instructions .

This is  an ill wind that will blow nobody any good. It is time for all segments of society to close ranks and join forces in taking the offensive back to the virus.  A stitch in time saves nine.

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