Over the past few months, the Covid-19 pandemic has spread around the world, aided and abetted by millions upon millions of people, including many of the most powerful politicians in the world who failed to heed the warnings of public health and scientific experts.
The pandemic has also spread around the world because many people and leaders thought their countries have special immunity to the virus. There are still so many people, the world-over, living in ivory towers despite the overwhelming scientific evidence about how deadly coronavirus is.
Denying scientific facts and coming up with all manner of conspiracy theories is not a new problem. For Malawi, such tendencies were there when the first case of HIV was reported. People only started to accept after the HIV and Aids pandemic had caused so much havoc.
Oftentimes, people deny scientific facts when facing up to them is the more fearsome option. They would rather live in denial of the existence of the problem than face up to it. Denial becomes their temporal relief from pain or taking responsibility to solving the problem. But science is real whether we accept it or not, and we cannot deny that it harms the whole of human society, like what is being experienced right now. The whole world is shutdown. Denying the reality of the coronavirus has made it more dangerous for everyone.
The pandemic while reminding us of our physical fragility, has undermined economic security, thrown daily routines topsy-turvy, wreaked havoc on plans and isolated friends and neighbours.
When events are too painful for people to cope with, denial often kicks in. But the current pandemic makes it truly important for us to face the truth. At this point, it is hard to imagine that anyone could really ignore the danger of the coronavirus or imagine that they are somehow immune to it.
Yet this is exactly what is happening across Malawi as people continue to gather for prayers in ill-ventilated churches, hold wedding parties, head out to packed pubs and clubs and tell themselves and their families that it simply won’t happen to them.
Covid-19 has proved it does not respect one’s social standing—poor, rich, pastor or atheist—it is not discriminating anybody. The sooner we will all wake up from the denial and face the reality, the better. With a collapsing health system that Malawi has, we all need to take responsibility in protecting ourselves and others from the virus.
As for the leaders, be firm in your decisions and messaging. Do not send conflicting messages to the public. Above all, do not politicise Covid-19.