On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.  The spiraling cases of COVID-19 around the world, as well as the incidences of death, especially in China, Italy, Spain and the United States of America, are clear indications that this pandemic is an unprecedented global health problem. 

In recent weeks and days, governments around the world have implemented drastic measures to curtail the spread of the virus. For instance, in Nigeria’s south-south region, Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers State, took stringent measures including the temporary closure of markets and entry borders to the state.  Understandably, these steps are tough, desperation may kick in, hope may wane and public trust in the government’s capacity to manage this crisis may come under intense scrutiny especially in very polarised climes. But, then these tough measures taken by Wike and some other governors in parts of Nigeria are necessitated by the existing state of affairs.  Granted, social distancing does not offer a cure-all for the pandemic.  However, as China has demonstrated, it has proved effective for curbing the spread of the highly contagious virus.  As a people, the task set before us is, therefore, to be responsible. As Ainsley Earheardt of Fox News aptly said, “We have a responsibility to slow down this virus and to think of other people during this time”.  We have to be responsible to ourselves, others and the government.

Be Responsible for Yourself! This entails adopting behavioural measures that can help stop the spread of COVID-19. According to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), these include washing your hands with soap under running water for about 30 seconds or in the absence of water, applying alcohol-based hand sanitizers.  Citizens are advised to avoid close contact with persons with symptoms of respiratory ailments and staying at least two meters apart from persons who are repeatedly coughing or sneezing.  The guidelines also indicate that people should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue paper while sneezing or coughing and carefully disposing of the tissue after each use.  The NCDC also cautions that people showing symptoms of fever, cough, and difficulties with breathing should not mingle with other people. By being responsible, you are saving someone else.  Here are five ways you can stay healthy. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/how-to-help-fight-coronavirus-COVID-19/[SJ1] 

Be Responsible to Others! Desperate times call for desperate measures. With respect to this arduous challenge, the natural response is to panic-buy especially since many parts of the state and country are under quasi-lockdown.  However, panic-buying results in an artificial hike in the costs of food items and medical supplies with dire consequences for the poor.  If everybody buys only what they need, there will be enough for all. For every extra unnecessary purchase, someone else is deprived of access to basic needs. Shop responsibly and think about others as we are all in this together.

Be Responsible with Information! In February, WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic”.  As the pandemic rages, conspiracy theories and rumors especially on social media platforms have gained virality.  False information, which is used for political point-scoring or business traffic purposes, undermine medical advice, incite panic and result in the proliferation of fake cures.  Misinformation is, therefore, counterproductive.  Disseminate only information from approved government sources.  Click the link to find out how to spot fake news https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/how-to-avoid-covid-19-fake-news-coronavirus/

Be Responsible for the state! It is okay to question the methods adopted by the state at this time, after all, we practice democracy. However, also applaud and partner with state efforts at fighting the Coronavirus. 

For governments all over the world especially in Nigeria, Responsibility in handling donated funds, relief materials, medical supplies, stepping up to the crises and communicating to the people about their efforts and challenges is required.

Be Responsible! Don’t be a #Covidiot.

Connect with me on Twitter @danielwhyte2 and Instagram @dannigmatic

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