Okay I agree, it’s the e- era and everything is going on e- format, from e-payment to e-transfer and now to e-bola, everything, truly is going on the e-platform.
This is the point.
Patrick Sawyerr has become quite a popular figure in the last two weeks in Nigeria and that popularity cuts across both relational and business planes.
In the relational plane, Patrick Sawyerr has helped to re-define our social interactions by reducing as much as possible, physical contact with our previously harmless alliances.
While in the business plane, the effect of Patrick Sawyerr has been even more dramatic as he has influenced consumer trends leveraging on the drive of fear and panic to create sell-out products from previously very stagnant markets.
Let me break this down a little bit.
Just in-case you’re wondering what the heck Patrick Sawyerr has to do with you – he’s the Liberian that died in Lagos from the Ebola virus -I know that got your attention.
It all started from church on Sunday, when I noticed that people were reluctant to welcome guests or first timers as they are normally called with any form of physical contact, preferring to smile as against the tradition of a handshake or a ‘warm hug’ as it usually said.
Today, there were no overzealous brothers looking for female guests to hug –everybody just maintain, looking left and right to avoid any suspicious contact.
The suspicious behaviour continued on Monday, only this time it was at work, as a usually very playful colleague tactfully avoided a handshake citing Ebola as his excuse. ‘It’s a joke,’ he said, but I noticed he kept his hands to himself and avoided physical contact with as many people as he could manage.
Okay, his case is probably in the extreme, I tell myself, as he is clearly a minority in a staff number of about a thousand people, many of whom still went about engaging in handshakes and other officially accepted physical contact. *winks*
What I discovered later in the day as work led me to different offices was that every staff seemed to have a small bottle that they jealously guarded close-by, their eyes darting very frequently to where they kept it -they called it a sanitizer.
What joy for the producers, marketers and distributors of that product as it is presently the fastest selling and most sought after item in Lagos, Nigeria -unofficial statistics based on the number of broadcast messages marketing sanitizers.
The mama that sells it in my office is lost between doing her official secretarial job and being a marketer, distributor and retailer of sanitizers as the present demand for the product calls for more than just a part time participation in the thriving business -it has become her retirement plan.
She experienced a spike in sales when news broke that the doctor who attended to Patrick Sawyerr has been confirmed to be infected with the virus and practically ran out of stock a week later when the nurse that was part of the team was confirmed dead as a whole troop of staff swarmed in to her office to grab a bottle of sanitizer.
I’m smart enough to know when I’ve been left behind by a wave and as I watch this mama count her cash from her sanitizer sales, I tidy my surf board for the next wave -bitter kola.
I have ordered two lorry loads of bitter kola as the broadcast messages have begun to spread that the fruit cures Ebola. After posting this piece, I’ll start another broadcast message that says ‘not only does bitter kola cure Ebola, it prevents and immunes against the virus.’ #gbam!
Most of the messages sent out on social media about Ebola are mostly facts tainted to suit different interests -especially marketing interests.
The stock in trade of most broadcast messages being bandied about is FEAR just to promote certain products and because we usually are too lazy to verify facts, we leave ourselves at the mercy of others who are ever willing to thrive on our ignorance. This is a serious situation and it is better tackled if we educate ourselves as against trading in ignorance.
Find listed below five facts of Ebola, the fear mongers will never let you know;
1. Patients are contagious only once the disease has progressed to the point they show symptoms and the most vulnerable are health care workers and relatives who come in much closer contact with the sick
2. Human to human transmission is only achieved by physical contact with the body fluids of a person who is ‘acutely ill’ or who has died from Ebola. Transmission among humans is mainly among care-giver family members or health care workers tending to the very ill, or in preparation of the body of a deceased case for burial.
(Source: WHO, US Embassy (Liberia), July 28th, 2014)
3. A person can have the virus without symptoms for 2-21 days, the average being 5 to 8 days before becoming ill. The person is not contagious until they are acutely ill.
(Source: WHO, US Embassy (Liberia), July 28th, 2014, LASG Public Health Office)
4. While all Ebola virus species have displayed the ability to be spread through airborne particles under research conditions, this type of spread has not been documented among humans in a real-world setting, such as a hospital or household. The disease is not airborne.
(Source: Centre for Disease Control & Prevention)
5. Casual contact in public places with people that do not appear to be sick do not transmit Ebola. One cannot contract Ebola virus by handling money, groceries or swimming in a pool. Mosquitoes do not transmit the Ebola virus.
(Source: National Center For Disease Control, India)
While the above facts debunks a lot of the junk being passed around as truth, you can further educate yourself by visiting these sites/platforms, www.ebolaalert.org, www.facebook.com/EbolaAlert, Twitter: @EbolaAlert and Mobile app: EbolaCheckUp.ebolaalert.org or call the numbers listed below;
There are many people who will insist on believing rumours instead of using these platforms to get first hand information, as they believe the government will always seek to cover up the truth, to such people, there is no help.
Ebola is a deadly disease, but Fear is a much more deadly disease. I recommend that we get beyond our fears by shining the light of education into the recesses of our minds. Where there is darkness, there is always fear!
If the person does not look sick, he/she cannot infect you – Dr Yewande Adeshina Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Public Health on Channels TV.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ****** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Connect with Aideyan Daniel on Twitter @AideyanDaniel