CoronaVirus: Misinformation spreads faster than the germ itself

Someone coughed in the supermarket last night, so I walked out. 

My exit was calm and orderly, but rapid and deliberate. I steered my cartful of whiskey, toothpaste, Oatbix, and antiseptic dish-washing fluid to a corner of the nearest aisle, clicked my heels, adopted a straight posture and strode out, fast. 

I walked out the way you leave a supermarket when you see your ex in an adjacent aisle and she is holding hands and giggling into the muscly arm of someone taller, more rugby and more beardy than you.

The way you leave a supermarket when you see someone you owe over 50k and you have a bottle of black barrel Jamie in your cart.

The way you exit a supermarket when you see someone who just tweeted something despicable and you don’t want that energy in your lifespace at that time. Like, you don’t have the gas for confrontation, but you don’t want to pretend that you don’t know that they are the scum of the trash. You know the feeling. We all do.

That is how I exited. Quick steps, rapid and firm, back as straight as it would be if there was a literal stick shoved up my ass right next to the perpetual figurative one.

Someone coughed and I left.

I didn’t raise the alarm. I could have yelled, “That nigga’s got the Rona! Everybody, run!” Or at least been civic-minded enough to discreetly DM alert the @MinistryofHealthUg, but nah. I just got out of there as fast as I could. I was only trying to save myself. 

Some of us are only out to save ourselves and will let the rest of you fester in Covid contagion. It’s not like there is only one source of Black Barrel.

The Coronavirus outbreak has revealed a lot of things about Ugandans, like, mob panic is different from individual panic. Consider for example this question: How do you get a global outbreak, a global emergency pandemic that spreads far and fast enough to set the whole planet in panic, out of a disease that can be prevented by merely washing hands with soap?

All Covid-19 needed to get from one province in China to every continent on earth was a reliable string of unwashed hands. This is a plague if not caused, then perpetuated by dirty people.

Uganda should have learned by now, being the host of regular cholera scares, that dudes, you need to wash your hands a lot. 

But then again, we don’t really take cholera seriously, do we? Every time it rears its ugly head, we just shrug the shoulders that carry our filthy hands and proceed as if we didn’t see said familiar face of pestilence. 

I always picture the ugly face of cholera as grey and long, with cockroach tentacles instead of eyebrows, with sunken eyes and a hollow, echoing laugh emanating from a toothless mouth. I imagine its ugly head looking unsettling enough to cause cholera symptoms like vomiting, sleeplessness and racing heartbeat, something that will cause the viewer to shit themselves rapidly and forcefully– instant diarrhea.

And those are the more tolerable symptoms of cholera.

Others are, if not death itself, then rectal pain. That symptom alone should be enough to scare anyone into washing their hands.

And yet Kampala has never treated cholera with as much respect as it is treating Covid-19.

Cholera breaks out and the most you blog-reading elites expect is a few weeks of headlines about other people in slums somewhere in a faraway shadow otherworld beyond the reach of cafe wifi. We don’t ever think it’s going to get us.

Spreading faster than the virus itself is the gallows humour and the gossip, the memes and misinformation. There is a lot of talk about Coronavirus, to the point that, and though I am no mathematician I have a lot of confidence in this calculation– if everyone washed their hands every time they said the word “Coronavirus”, the pandemic would end in x²(b⅔√π)=43.25 minutes.

Many of us, eager to contribute to the conversation, are reading and repeating what we saw in whatsapp forwards, even though we should all know by now that if anything comes to you via a whatsapp forward, it is a lie. 

Even when BelovedOne sends nudes, do not believe them. She is probably wearing a transparent skin-tight gomesi if she sent them on Whatsapp.

And it is not as if the actual facts are that hard to find.

Every day another reliable news outlet, medical site, health organisation re-releases the same list of facts and an updated list of accompanying myths to be debunked.

And every day we spawn a new myth.

I was one of those that scoffed, but if you had seen how I whooped when someone tweeted that Sevo had banned night prayers… I wanted to believe that the Pharisees would let us sleep in silence for just a month, I didn’t even wait to see if dude had actually banned them.

I am looking at a mythbusting graphic now and feeling like quite the hysterical idiot for the way I hotfooted it out of the supermarket last night.

It doesn’t say that I would have had to french kiss Coughy Olumidde at the supermarket for two hours in order for the infection to take root, but it does suggest that I was a bit hasty in the way I ditched my whiskey so fast. 

What I have done now, and I suggest you also do, for the sake of our health, our next few months, and our black barrels, is subscribe to the WHO Covid-19 page. Keep checking for updates, crosscheck any story you hear.

Wash your hands a lot. Avoid crowded places. If you feel the symptoms, get tested right quick. And Check For Accurate Information Regularly.

Here is me and Suki Social Distancing/ Remote Working.

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