Coronavirus as ripple effects of man’s decisions, By Obed Okocha

Posted by News Express | 15 July 2020 | 1,033 times

Gmail icon

•Ugochukwu Obed Okocha

This paper is very much interested in ticking boxes; say an inquiry into the inert roles of some affected countries and why we must survive today and react tomorrow.

There are reasonable fears filling our hearts. It is a very famous concern if the world is ending. It is not ending because of pandemics; it is ending because we humans have been inattentive to the effect of globalisation on the one hand, the other face is that it ending because we inadvertently promote quicker misfortune when we poorly identify the doctrine of cause and effect.

Before a pandemic, there was a coronavirus in Wuhan spreading in December of 2019. The world moved on as people in Wuhan moved from homes to graves; the virus moved on too. The virus moved to unfamiliar lands and became three things, having attained its desired popularity: “COVID-19”, “the virus of the Orientals” and “the overstaying visitor.” It is such a difficult time. With over 1.35 million cases, 75,900 deaths and 289,000 cases of recovery, it is not unripe a time to philosophise about a possible extinction of the human race. Curious even is that the common enemy is not COVID-19. The government is.

Philosophy of angles

It is probably beyond a doubt now that when there is an epidemic in country A, the wish of country B is that it does not extend to their territory. So, then, one angle could be how much self-focused, self-centred and pathetic humans could really be. If we must not be embittered, there is the optimism that country B’s reaction was no more than survival instincts – it is often a matter of fact to determine where a lack of empathy shifts from vices to virtues. At both local and international borders, this angle is called politics. It is narrowed down as mere conflict of interests: country A should understand. Where it is not a case of politics, it is one of genuine desire to survive the storm even if it means the entire country A be wiped out of earth. If it is not the black or white, it is safe to say the angles embody a plenitude of possibilities, if we must consider the “grey.”

China, with over 81,708 cases of the virus, has become the face of two months at the global scale. It is at this their time of difficulty that conspiracy theories have spread like wildfire. The conspiracy theories have become legal processes documented by the US government against China – it all comes down to accusations of wrongful deaths of over 9,620 American citizens and the use of unapproved means of warfare; in this case, the coronavirus as biological weapons. It is this part that gets dicey – the question of whether the suit is inspired by a protection of public interests or if it is a suit of personal interest (a fight to maintain number one position in the world). It tilts towards the latter, unfortunately, if one recalls the slothfulness of Trump in shutting borders or if one considers China’s omission to give a global report concerning the epidemic. While there could be more than meets the eye, we may segue, for now, into floaters already found in the eyes.

It is not a time to nosedive into frenzy, so only the strong in heart should look up links of affected countries. The only positive thing about the virus is that immune systems can beat it and aid recovery; it is thus true that there is no cure. It is also true that our immune system can give in to COVID-19’s call to glory. It is not intended to scare us when it is scribbled here that it may take months to complete a thorough study of the roots of Covid-19. It is said to be from pangolins or bats. But pangolins is unlikely because you will wonder why no case of the virus was reported from the sellers of pangolins (it should read their community and not Wuhan’s). While not intended, it is however the truth. It is true that if miracles do not happen soon, then we would need a great deal of patience of further months or a year for a trusted vaccine to be in the markets. If we consider how much experiments will be undergone, side-effects on young and old, sick and healthy, genotypes and blood groups, the overwhelmed health practitioners must need the time. It is true that if the health practitioners join the panic distress, we are couple of steps closer to the end of time. It is also true that, like Rubella and Ebola, this virus may have no cure despite the exercised longsuffering. It is correct to say that patience is beyond a virtue in this circumstance, it is lucidly the only choice left for the governed.

It was man’s decision to bring wildlife closer to his niche. The epidemics so far have been ripple effects of man’s decisions. The records have been there but we have chosen to define “survival” as trusting we will not be one of the fallen men. Along the line, it was man’s decisions to wear a blindfold that the lessons of reality be his nursed ignorance. Our leaders got us to this point and as we fight for our lives today, we must not forget to fight for our compensation tomorrow. It is a socio-legal inquiry whether the acts or omissions of the President of the United States of America birthed two torts:  negligence and wrongful deaths. It is a socio-legal inquiry whether the President of Nigeria birthed same torts. It is a socio-legal inquiry whether China’s omissions birthed same torts. It is, however, not a prolonged inquiry on the hosts as we can focus on these principal offenders, among others.

The volatility of the tort of negligence is what has led courts to apply stricter measures. Even in its strictness, it is the position that value judgments will honour social interests, public safety and order over individual interests, except in minor instances like contracts or employment affairs between persons of extreme opposite bargaining powers. The minor considerations could stretch beyond the just considered areas of law. In a nutshell, the law of negligence, in particular, is a standing illustration of the fluctuating balance of value-considerations. Thusly, peculiar facts presented will inarticulately provoke discretionary justice. The applicability of this tort may rest on duty, breach of duty, cause in fact, proximate cause and damages. Its presence in an action bordering on this pandemic may thus assume safe landing.

It was a grave omission for Nigerian government when her borders stayed closed to countries with only over a thousand cases of coronavirus, but open to lesser. It was a clear case of signing the death sentence of the governed and there are consequences for grave indiscretions. The decision to embark on reactive measures when there were early opportunities to be proactive has threatened the right to life of her citizens. The cause of the virus is not certain, but how it spread to Nigeria is. The legal effect ties one to a possibility of stretching the right to life in the Constitution as having been violated. Nigeria was never ready for a virus of this nature as it could not boast of facilities, yet the government hosted the guest. Can we say coronavirus led to the deaths of five confirmed deceased Nigerians? Or is it proper to bring a tort action of wrongful death against the government for the death of the five persons? The reactive measures have been death notes too as it is foolish talk to put the hand-to-mouth majority at home without necessary palliatives and incentives. Manna has not fallen from heaven since, and it is certain that if the impoverished lot frankly abhor robbery, we may be reporting cases of death from starvation (it may be no news to a third world nation as starvation has killed more than the new virus). Right to life is legally protected and the presence of such a right attracts the duty of the governed and governors not to breach them. In this case, the government was reckless in matters of public safety and on grounds of value judgments; the family of the dead and the affected lot are entitled to monetary compensation.

With respect to the suit against China, say there is a splatter of doctrines such as: ex turpi causa non oritur actio and the last clear chance doctrine. The first defence may die on arrival as it puts the strict burden on the defendant to establish the illegal acts of the plaintiffs. While one may agree that the virus started in China, it is moot to say at what point the plaintiff acted illegally. The possibility of the latter defence for China is more promising if the tort of wrongful deaths comes with the tort of negligence. In this case, contributory negligence can be used as a shield to neutralise the tort of negligence, if it is established that the plaintiff was reckless as well by not taking proactive or reactive measures themselves to avoid spread into all 50 states of the United States. Even this shield could be broken if the doctrine of last clear chance shows that:

(1) the defendant knew of the plaintiff’s situation

(2) the defendant realises or has reason to realise that the plaintiff is inattentive and therefore unlikely to discover his peril in time to avoid the harm

(3) the plaintiff is negligent in failing to utilize with reasonable care and competence his then existing opportunity to avoid the harm.

The gist is that it is up for debate whether China owed America a duty to disseminate information of the epidemic early enough else it is a case of remoteness: Parallelism between idealism and realism on the throbbing core at international conventions is a call for deeper brooding. Ultimately, it is more a matter of the governed that have been affected, getting compensated for losses of loved ones and businesses.

Further on angles, what happens when the first and second world countries remain overwhelmed by the ever-increasing death tolls? It is simple. The third world countries would vanish slowly. A country like Somalia, for instance, with no labs for testing Covid-19, ships specimens to the Kenya Medical Research Institute and other regional reference laboratories. If Kenya, during its own COVID-19 struggles, denies Somalia further reception, the death tolls in Somalia will stockpile. In fact, that they have seven confirmed cases is because they do not have the kits or facilities to handle the virus or determine the actual number of persons hosting the virus. We are observers of what globalisation comes with and it is reported by biologists that this will not be the last epidemic. Still, it is good to hold that the environment is not the enemy, but decisions of man.


It will remain in our hearts the very big question: was COVID-19 an act of God? If it could be foreseen early enough and contained, it would have remained coronavirus without necessarily becoming a pandemic. The time for a global health system is long overdue. If we can have one powerful centre with strong health institutions in all countries, patterns can better be studied. There is need to prioritise public safety if we must remain extant. A study of patterns will be to aid the curtailing or prevention of further pandemics. It is not a hundred per cent solution, but it is the best thing that can ever happen to man and his relation with his environment.

Stay safe!  

*Obed writes from Benin City.

Source: News Express

Readers Comments

0 comment(s)

No comments yet. Be the first to post comment.

You may also like...