Tuesday Column by VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
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For the first time, at least in a long while, US president, Donald Trump called the virus that had been ravaging the world by its proper name – corona virus. Hitherto, he had always referred to it as ‘China virus’, uttering the word with a tinge of mockery and contempt for that country and defying the World Health Organisation’s stand that it should not be attached to any country, that it should be known as COVID-19. Well, Trump apparently sets his own rules and is no respecter of international laws, much less any declaration by a world body as the WHO from which it unilaterally pulled off the United states in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, accusing it of pandering to China. Recall that Trump had ignored international law when it moved the USA embassy from the word-recognized Israeli capital of Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem.
Trump defied experts’ admonition on how to curtail spread of the virus by frequently shunning wearing of masks in public and non adherence to physical distancing at rallies, etc. In the beginning he was shaking hands with literally everybody. He later stopped that but continue to discourage through his own example, wearing of face/nose masks and social distancing. Unsurprising, his family members, aides and supporters took after him as could be seen from photos at his rallies and other public outings. At the last Presidential debate, his family members and aides who accompanied him physically to the event, shoved aside face masks that were being offered them by the debate officials. Trump defied scientific evidence by asserting that COVID-19 was like the common flu, that it would literally disappear in a jiffy. Indeed, President Trump only fell short of declaring the novel coronavirus nonexistent.
Several months later, COVID-19 is still very much alive in the world, especially in the US itself and Europe. Worldwide, over 35 million people have been infected with over one million deaths; while in Trump’s country, to-date, over seven million Americans have caught the disease and it has killed over 200,000 of them.
Trump defied medical protocols by proclaiming that chloroquine basically, prevents/cures coronavirus, proudly averring that he had been taking it himself with good results, apparently because he was still well, alive and kicking. This was against standard practice that such blunt declarations be made by relevant medical authorities. It was also against medical research which says that there is no fool-proof evidence about that drug being able to cure COVID-19 as yet. In fact as at this moment, experts say there is no cure yet for this disease. And Trump yet again, defied standard research protocols by gleefully announcing that a vaccine for coronavirus shall be out by as early as November 3. That is, before the much awaited US presidential election D-day. This was against medical research experimentation procedures which take at least one year for a drug or vaccine to be certified fit for public use, according to experts.
Notwithstanding Trump’s legendary defying acts as detailed above and being more or less a law unto himself who gets over any infractions without any visible immediate repercussions, President Trump could not defy COVID-19 protocols for long as the disease eventually caught up with him. Coronavirus dealt him a blow and with it, his braggadocio, macho, strongman attitude/posture. Despite the fact that the White House Clinic is more or less like a full-fledged hospital, equipped with latest medical gadgets to treat all types of ailments, his highly qualified presidential medical team had to admit to themselves that this is a disease they could not cope with. And so they had to, so to speak, seek for more help by rushing him to a military hospital in Bethsaida. Can you imagine the ‘invincible’, strong man of the ‘world’ lying prostrate on a hospital be, helpless, obediently taking and following orders from the doctors; this same Trump that is used to barking out orders at people. The picture of him boarding the helicopter to the hospital and thereafter, shows him wearing mask. On Sunday when he drove briefly to salute his supporters massing at the hospital, he was wearing mask. What is more, the security officer with him was fully kitted with a personal protection equipment cloak, a medical mask and ventilator.
Just before he was taken to the hospital, Trump posed for a photo that he sent out to the American people, apparently to show that he is a strongman, a fighter who would beat COVID-19 . A writer analysed the picture thus, “There Donald Trump stood in a near-barren room in the White House doing what he loves to do most – starring into a camera. But this time he looked worn, his shoulders slumped. The tissue-thin vitality of his perpetual bronze sprayed—on tan was gone. Instead, Trump glaring, almost sheet-white complexion revealed a suddenly small and sick man. He looked like a man who understood that he had been infected by a potentially lethal virus…. More than anything, Trump looked frightened”
Trump returned to the White House on Monday to continue with his convalescence. I do hope that this fatal disease that left President Trump, leader of the ‘free world’ helpless for some two days would have humbled him. The experience should make him empathise with those that are suffering from the disease, the sick of whatever ailment in general, physically challenged persons, the injured and dead in warfronts, the poor and marginalized people, all of whom he had mocked at one time or other.
He himself will consider his recovery a miracle and be thankful to the Almighty. And one way by which he can show his gratitude is by preaching and engendering love among all Americans no matter the condition or circumstance in which they were/are born. Mr. President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, it is not enough to mouth your gratitude to the Almighty for saving your life from the pandemic. You should show it in thoughts, words and actions by adhering to this His Commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thy self”