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Don't let Brenda’s message of hope get lost in the din of scepticism

By The Standard | April 3rd 2020

No sooner had Brenda and Brian come out with the profoundly uplifting story of their recovery from the dreaded Covid-19 than internet trolls went on heartless character assassination, portraying them as accomplices in a choreographed PR campaign by the Ministry of Health.

They spawned all manner of conspiracy theories about the former Miss Kericho County beauty queen. From where she was, who she met, what she did where and when.

The conspiracy theories ignore the fundamental lessons from the outbreak of the deadly pandemic; that it kills; that it does not discriminate on age and gender and class, and that detected early, the life-threatening conditions can be reversed.

How is it that we are so overly obsessed with how she looks, what she said if she is 27 or 26 years and whether she is dating Brian. We seem least bothered about contagion with no known cure and which presents the biggest threat to humanity. With nearly a million infections and counting, we should be scared.

With the highest coronavirus cases and deaths piling up, the US, Italy, Spain and the UK are under the throes of the pandemic. Cumulatively, nearly a billion people – all of them from the world's richest economies – are under quarantine. Working from home is the new normal.

Would that their leaders knew better. They would have acted faster to contain the spread.

Brenda’s crime was to do what any responsible citizen ought to. Is it that our society is used to bad mannerisms and a don’t-care attitude that we don’t mind bullying one who has done the right thing?

Rather than expose many to the deadly Covid-19 (as many including our so-called leaders and clergy have done), Brenda took herself to the isolation facility at Mbagathi District Hospital.

The anger of many of those spoiling for war with Brenda and Brian would serve better if they asked what our leaders are doing or not doing that they ought to do?

Shouldn't our MPs and other elected leaders be hectoring government to do more besides the tokenism offered last week to businesses and corporates?

Yet it is also easy to attribute the backlash and the distortions to the Ministry of Health’s inability to process and forward timely information about the contagion. In disease outbreaks, facts are sacred and hope is transient. Yet in spite of that, it is doubtful that the government would engage in a PR stunt in a matter of life and death. That would be reckless and callous.

In truth, Brenda and Brian’s recovery is plausible.

Globally, out of 960,000 coronavirus cases, there have been 49,000 deaths and 203,000 recoveries. Locally, out of the nearly 2,500 tested, there have been 100 confirmed cases, two deaths, and two recoveries.

In its wake, the pandemic has left collapsed health-care systems, and caused social and economic upheaval never seen before. More than 100 countries have closed their borders, ordered businesses and schools to close, and instructed their populations to self-quarantine. The World Bank estimates that the world economy will contract by up to 1.5 per cent pushing many into poverty and destitution. Locally, organisations are revising their growth projections with job losses on the cards as many struggle to stay afloat.

And therefore, Brenda’s and Brian’s message of hope should not be lost in the din of skepticism.

Theirs was a story of hope and triumph; a happy ending. We ought to rally ourselves to beat the disease. The cynicism that has greeted it makes one cringe. It also undermines efforts to flatten the curve.

Additionally, their story shows that concerted efforts can beat back the wave of infections.

World-renown colleges like the Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins University (US) have done worst-case scenarios. The sad conclusion is that it will get worse before it gets better. Even then, no one knows exactly when that is.

Imperial College presented epidemiological modelling, which proposes mitigation and suppression as two non-pharmaceutical interventions, which will limit human contact and thereby curtail the transmission of the virus.

This, to a large extent, will reduce peak healthcare demand by two-thirds and deaths by up to half.

The science of it is that 20 per cent of the cases will get severe and that 2 per cent of these will be fatal. That is why the smaller the base of infections, the better because prevention is better than cure.

Brenda did her part; she deserves accolades not torrents of abuse.

Covid 19 Time Series


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