By Isaac Asabor
The rate at which some careless Nigerians are partying or rather dancing their collective sorrow away amidst the raging COVID-19 pandemic is making other Nigerians who on their own have been obeying all extant protective measures put in place by the governments to prevent its transmission to be worried by each passing day. Not only that, the irresponsible actions of the violators have been raising the salient question of whether it is healthy or suicidal for people to be dancing away their sorrow to the detriment of others. Against the foregoing backdrop, it would not be unexpected for anyone to ask, “Why would people be worried when others are dancing away their sorrow?” The answer to the foregoing question cannot be farfetched as the sorrow that is inherent in COVID-19 pandemic cannot in any way be danced away as it is noted to spread between people, mainly when an infected person is in close contact with another person. As gathered, the virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe heavily. More so, we cannot claim to be more party freaks than the Americans. As you read this piece, the total cases recorded in America as at the time of writing this piece, on January 11, 2021 stood at 22,322,956, while more than 220,887 were recorded as new cases.
It is gruesome and worrisome enough as the task to ease the pandemic has not being a piece of cake for health officials who are focused on slowing the spread. The reason for this cannot be farfetched because, by understanding how coronavirus spreads, it is expedient for people to take the right steps so they do not get sick and infect others.
Some of the questions been asked by many that truly see the act of partying amidst COVID-19 pandemic as objectionable are, “Why would anyone with his or her right senses resort to throwing lavish party with mass gathering of dancers? Again, some are still asking, “Why are educated people that are not oblivious of the fact that the world is a global village, and by that are in position to known that whatever happens in the USA, UK, Australia, can negatively impact on people living in this part the world?”
As if it is a competition, some youths and elders that are in vantage position to know the risks involved in organizing parties in this period of pandemic are not in any way helping matters for the pandemic to be ameliorated.
A perusal of past issues of most newspapers and online media platforms would reveal various headlines that were cast in the following similitude: “Nollywood star Funke Akindele is arrested for throwing a lavish birthday party for her husband amid strict Covid-19 lockdown – despite fronting a ‘stay at home’ campaign in Nigeria”, “Police arrest 237 clubgoers for violating COVID19 protocols in Lagos”, “Police Arrest Funke Akindele Over House Party” and “Actress who fronted coronavirus PSAs busted for hosting party” and other eye-catching headlines.
Without over-flogging the issue, it suffices in this context to say that COVID-19 exposure parties are detrimental to the health of many Nigerians who are by no means partygoers. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the country has seen the rise of so-called “COVID-19 parties,” in which partygoers attempt to contract COVID-19. These COVID-19 parties are extremely dangerous and can have deadly consequences, not just for those who attend. Despite extant rules and regulations put in place by the government, it is unarguably a shame that people still find time to gather for parties, and in that light continue to spread the pandemic. It may not be wrong to guess that public health officials have a new worry to contend with amidst the coronavirus pandemic parties where people are somewhat trying to contract COVID-19 and gain immunity to the disease.
And elderly woman at Mowe, Ogun State nostalgically likened the situation to “Pox Parties” of the past, where families would have their kids play with another child who was sick with chickenpox, people who are having COVID parties are hoping to get sick with the disease and gain immunity. Consequently, they are either hanging out with a person who is infected or violating stay-at-home orders in order to mingle with friends. Does the foregoing view contradicts logical reason? How else do you expect me to describe anyone with his wide eyes opened colliding with an elephant?
The issue here is that this type of logic is not only flawed but extremely dangerous. And, as more people get sick and numbers go up, it slows down the ability of communities and local economies to open up.
Instead of spreading immunity, the COVID-19 parties could cause a spike in cases and lead people to suffer from severe symptoms including death. After all, there is no way to predict how anyone’s body will respond to the coronavirus.
Another issue is that people who are not concerned about getting the virus could spread it to someone who does not want to get it because of a pre-existing condition or being immunocompromised. There have been at least two areas in the country, in Lagos and in Abuja, where this is taking place and possibly even more as not all cases are been reported.
As COVID-19 keeps spreading, most people try to avoid catching it but health officials are starting to worry that some people may be trying to catch it on purpose. Their goal is to build population immunity through a herd immunity strategy.
The problem is even more worrisome as there is need to preempt a lot of people getting the coronavirus all at once. This is because we obviously do not have the potential to handle such magnitude of cases that would no doubt overwhelm the healthcare system. This would in turn leave some people without much-needed healthcare.
We should not forget the old adage that says, “Prevention is better than cure”. Even if few got the disease over time, they are more likely to receive better healthcare because the number would unarguably be manageable. Better still, the manageable number of patients, peradventure, it turned out as been opined in this piece, would give room for more research and information that can be made available as we are been threatened by the pandemic.
To me there is no sorrow to dance away during this period of COVID-19 pandemic. While it is normal to want to see family and friends again after social distancing for so long, it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and others. Intentionally exposing oneself or that of his or her family to the coronavirus is not going to get rid of COVID-19, and it is not going to help the country to speed through the process. In fact, it may slow it down.
To this end, it is expedient to opine that there is no doubt that everyone wants to go back to normal. But we cannot make COVID-19 disappear by seemingly becoming infected on purpose any more than we can wish it away. Consequently, the best course of action is to adapt to the new normal while finding creative ways to enjoy life while still staying safe.
Isaac Asabor is a Public Affairs Analyst.