Now’s not the time for skepticism

Dear Ebola skeptics, now’s not the time to spread skewed conspiracies. Ebola is real and deadly. Over 1,700 people have already died in this latest outbreak and more will die if we keep getting in the way of those trying to stop the epidemic from spreading further. We should all be grateful for the donors, medical personnel, volunteers and really anybody risking their own life to treat those with the disease.

Instead of raiding treatment centers, burning or looting medical supplies and hurting those taking care of victims, we should be supportive as that’s the best chance to help those affected recover faster. We know about the stigma and that’s why some people are reluctant to come forward but we need to be forthcoming because hiding in your house after being exposed or coming into contact with a carrier doesn’t make you immune.

There are concerns about the vaccines being administered and that’s understandable because tests are still ongoing but that’s because of the critical nature of the emergency rather than a sinister plot to wipe out large numbers of people. There’s also the cost. We don’t have the money and if someone else is willing to pay for the trials, we shouldn’t be dismissive. And if one vaccine is running out, we should be open to trying alternatives until more doses of what we’re accustomed to are available.

We can also step up other preventive measures which are inexpensive and really basic. With or without Ebola, we should wash our hands regularly, preferably with soap because there’re so many germs lurking around. Before and after handling food, after every toilet visit and throughout the day. And this handshaking business? Please put it off for now.

You don’t know where people’s hands have been anyway so just say hello. You may also want to lay off that bush meat for a while. Times are hard and some of us love our meat but let’s avoid the kinds we’ve been warned about. There’re still lots of safe meats on the market. To the churchgoers who don’t feel like they’ve been touched by the Holy Ghost unless the Pastor lays hands on them, you know what happened recently. The man or woman of God can pray for you without touching you. It doesn’t make the prayer less meaningful and God will hear it.

In the unfortunate event that you lose a loved one, please let the burial teams handle the body. They’re equipped with protective gear that limits contamination because this disease is highly contagious and that does not mean they’re disregarding or disrespecting our cultural values and it’s certainly not a deliberate attempt to disrupt or deny us an opportunity to bid our loved ones a final farewell. We need to work together because this is a not just a regional but global threat and we don’t want to risk border closures and travel bans because that will present problems of its own. The sooner we cooperate in this fight, the sooner we’ll get rid of this disease, hopefully for good.

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