COVID-19: Between Fact and Fiction By Richard Damb
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, rather than seek solution to containing and preventing the virus – Nigerians have resulted to half-truths, incoherent debates and falsehoods. Covid-19 pandemic will be better checkmated if we redirect such energy into proffering solutions to curb this menacing virus. The story of William Gyang and Nura Jibril is a worthy example of people who choose to be part of the solution and not the problem. The two software engineers, who have experience doing electrical repairs, discovered that there were 40 faulty ventilators machines at the University of Jos Teaching Hospital. They’ve already fixed two -free of charge and are now working on the others as at 8th April 2020 when BBC interviewed the duo.
One of the most recent, baseless conspiracy theories surrounding the virus is that 5G networks, the next generation of wireless technology that is steadily being rolled out around the world is fueling the global coronavirus pandemic.
The supposed link between 5G and Covid-19 gained credence when pastors bought the story and began to share it. Ace columnist Simon Kolawole aptly captures the situation when he wrote: “I’m not really worried if these myths and old wives’ fables are being spread by internet layabouts. But pastors? Many Christians are so gullible that, no matter the level of their education or exposure, they are easily misled. Pastors need to be careful. As Apostle James wrote, “we who teach will be judged more strictly.” When pastors, who are supposed to be led by the Spirit of God, are misleading the people, the only scripture that comes to mind is what Jesus said in Matthew 18:6”.
A stark reality that debunks the 5G conspiracy theory is that the virus is spreading in places without 5G networks. Nigeria is the only country in West Africa that has test-ran 5G for three months but there is presently no 5G network in Nigeria, nonetheless the country has recorded over 305 coronavirus cases. While Lesotho a country that has been using 5G since 2018 is yet to record a single case of coronavirus.
Just as Ali Zecks cautioned, “there’s never been a more critical time for human beings to practice critical thinking . Understand every piece of news, every person you talk to, every single thing you read has a bias of some kind and it is up to you to stay in power and learn to discern the information.” The times call on us all to educate ourselves, knowledge is just a click away. When you are told chloroquine prevents coronavirus or 5G is the cause of the virus. Don’t relent on broadcast messages with shaky hypothesis.
As we combat the plague of coronavirus, shall we also continue to endure the cock and bull stories of self-acclaimed correspondents willing to push rumours picked up in bars and beauty parlours. And the dishonourable nature of those who, in exchange for relevance, plant unsavoury stories calculated to suit their biases. Only time will tell.