23. März 2020
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Abuja, Nigeria
A Stranger’s Call
Today I received a call from a total stranger asking about my health and it made me happy.
You see, I have been in Menerbes, a small village in the South of France, where there was no case of coronavirus up to when I left. I hope it stays that way. I had practically no contact with anyone other than a handful of people I shared the Dora Maar Residency with. I have been in good health all through my stay, which was longer than 14 days and so had everyone I had been with there.
On Monday, the 16th, we were informed by the director of the residency, that France was shutting down in a couple of days over the coronavirus and we had to get out before then. So I had to scramble to get a flight out as soon as possible.
Throughout my stay, I took all-necessary precautions I could take and took extra measures while at the airports and on the flights.
When I arrived Nigeria yesterday, along with all the passengers on the flight, we were subjected to thermal scans and submitted our details to the health officers at the airport.
Coming from a high-risk country, I have chosen to be responsible and self-isolate for the recommended 14 days. I have not left my Abuja residence since I arrived.
So today, this stranger called. She works with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, she said, and was calling to inquire about my health, if I’ve had any fever, or cough or other symptoms of COVID-19. I have not and I told her and added, before she could ask, that my household is self-isolating as recommended.
She said she was going to be calling regularly to find out how I am doing and gave me the NCDC toll-free number to call, if there is any development.
Ordinarily, this is not a call I would have wanted but I am happy there is a commitment by the NCDC to follow up on “passengers of interest” as the person called me.
This is a serious situation and we must all be responsible, protect ourselves by washing our hands regularly with soap or hand sanitizers. I know Nigeria is a country of faith and I know religious leaders have made astonishing claims about the virus. I have heard Muslim leaders saying it is Allah’s punishment to China for persecuting Muslims. I have also heard Christian leaders saying they are chosen or otherwise anointed so they and their followers will not be affected. At the airport, there was a Catholic nun who confidently declared that the virus wouldn’t survive Nigeria’s weather.
“I know what I am talking about,” she added with pizazz.
I felt sorry for all those who would believe her.
Be responsible, religious leaders. Consider closing schools, churches, and mosques. Pray from your homes. If you must be out and about, maintain a one meter (or three feet distance) from the next person.
Don’t test God with stupidity.
I am confident a treatment and vaccine would be found for COVID-19 but until then, be responsible. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. And take care of the other souls you come in contact with everyday.