COVID-19: THE NEW CHALLENGE OF HEALTH CARE GLOBALLY 5

Some postulates state that the virus started from a mutanon in the bats, others say it was from eanng snake soup. Those are mere conjecture and what is certain is that regardless of how or where it started, it has travelled far and wide enough to be labelled a pandemic and a Public Health Disease of Internanonal Concern. 

Cambridge dicnonary defines a challenge as the situanon of being faced with something that needs great mental or physical effort in order to be done successfully and therefore tests [one’s] ability. This encapsulates what Covid-19 has been to health systems globally. 

Unlike the Ebola virus in which individuals are only infecnous when they show symptoms, COVID-19 offers no such luxury as individuals are highly infecnous even when asymptomanc. The popular saying “HIV no dey show for face” applies therein. The mode of transmission which is airborne is a cogent enough reason for the rapidity of spread. The ability of SARS- CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 to live for hours to days on surfaces is another puzzling factor that has contributed to it being a challenge. This means that its contagiousness denoted by Ro is significantly high. Presently, over two million people have been infected with over a hundred and fi y thousand deaths and the figures are snll climbing. 

Of extreme importance is the issue of transparency or the lack thereof in the reports about the first cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan Province in China spanning through December 2019. The ininal reports sent to the World Health Organizanon (WHO) explicitly stated that it was strictly zoononc with no evidence of human-to -human transmission up unnl late January 2020 ulnmately silencing Dr. Li Wenliang who likened the novel disease to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). This was used as jusnficanon for keeping the city of Wuhan operanng as normal and greatly contributed to the wide spread and travel of this disease across borders. We might not be able to quannfy the repercussions of this ininal misinformanon but most likely than not, the COVID-19 burden would be significantly less or be er snll, put to bed already. 

The outbreak began in a highly industrialized nanon and this has played a silent and frequently unacknowledged role in the progression to a global challenge. If the outbreak had begun in a country Africa, the result would have been extra scrunny on passengers leaving those countries or people from those nanonalines. Ulnmately, travel bans on African 

countries would have been implemented quickly without much thought to curb the spread. This didn’t happen in this case though, in fact, there was a lot of sluggishness to carry out extra checks on passengers from some of the worst hit countries which happened to be the G8/ highly industrialized nanons. 

To bu ress the global COVID-19 challenge, a G8 country like Italy had its efficient and well- run health system crippled by this disease such that it ‘required’ assistance at some point from Cuban doctors. If it were a handful of crincally ill panents, well-equipped systems can handle that but the numerous cases all at once coupled with its ease of infecnvity so much so that it has claimed the lives of health workers globally is has made it a truly powerful enemy. Further intensifying this challenge is the present lack of a specific annviral treatment and a vaccine in view for the next 6 months. 

Truly, COVID-19 is the new challenge of health care globally. Asides the physical/medical implicanons of the disease, there is also the ripple effect on mental health stemming from the loss of loved ones to the virus, social distancing and lockdown worldwide. The world might just never be the same.

Treasure Chinuokwu