Firstly the virus infects one person, then two, then three and then more.
It starts as an epidemic, then it spreads quickly to other parts of the world.
And then it becomes exponential, two people, then four, then 16, 32 on and on…
And then it becomes a pandemic.
So how do we respond?
We restrict movements, we run tests to identify the carriers, once identified, we quarantine them so they don’t infect others.
If you are early in catching it, you can limit the spread, treat those who are infected, case closed.
If you are a bit late, the virus splits and grows in other parts of the country.
You are then sitting with a task of running after it all over the country.
To limit the damage, you close the borders, you restrict more movements so that you can be able to slow it down.
If that doesn’t work, you stop everything, you put everyone on a lockdown. This is like freezing people, like they do in cartoons.
Once we are frozen [locked-down], the virus chasers can now afford to move swiftly looking for the virus, and nicely arrest it.
Once done, you then unfreeze us and life gets back to normal.
The virus does not move, people move it. We stop moving, the virus stops moving, the virus is caught and killed.
Sounds straight-forward right? Yes, but pulling it off is way too hard.
It is easy, to lockdown a country that has plenty of resources for its people to live on while on lockdown, it is very hard when it is a poor country.
Putting a country on lockdown that has lots of poor people, people who rely on selling vegetables on the street to make a living, is not so easy.
One thing you can’t say is: it’s fine go ahead with your life as normal, while dead bodies are pilling up on the corner.
Financially, poor and emerging countries will take a hard knock due to the lockdown far more than developed countries.
Here is the thing, financially we will all take a knock, but we will recover from it, it will take a long time, but we will recover.
Another risk that the lockdown presents, is that poor people who live hand to mouth may die of hunger.
So it’s a double-edged sword, you lockdown the country to save poor communities from the virus, but you risk the same community dying from hunger while on lockdown.
This is where financial support, and humanitarian supplies are crucial.
It is a race against time, we need to freeze everything, chase and catch the virus before poor people die of hunger.
Lockdown will have huge financial implications, opportunity cost of making revenue, and financial implications of humanitarian support.
But we will recover from the financial loss. What we can’t recover from is the lives lost if we didn’t lockdown the country.
We can recover financial losses but we can’t recover lost lives.
People should always come before profits.
We will come out of this mess.
We will be bruised, some lives may be lost [about 3% to 5% of those infected], huge financial losses will be incurred, but as South African comrades will say: “we will emerge, asjiki” [no retreat].
For now the chase is on.