The curse of COVID-19?

IN the Jamaican context, a cough, especially a constant one, would, at times, occasion someone, in friendly jest, to tap several times on your back, and a sneeze may be greeted with the term, “Bless you”.

COVID-19 has changed that narrative. A cough and a sneeze now seem more a curse than a blessing, and some have, in fact, got a good ‘cuss out’ because of this.

COVID-19 has rendered a natural cough and sneeze almost unnatural.


Casting the curse of COVID-19

Tales are told of people wreaking the ire of the masses for coughing and sneezing in public.

Disenchanted by a man’s sneezing spell, the passengers on-board a bus that reached Chester Castle started casting blows on the farmer, pushing him off the bus.

The cold misfortune has left the man shivering still. The victim of this nasal witch-hunt has vowed never to travel again, until the spell of COVID-19 is broken.

The situation is quite unfortunate, since coughing and sneezing are involuntary actions. It, no doubt, has shown the mass hysteria and paranoia invoked by COVID-19.

Notwithstanding, one would have thought that people could have refrained from this Salem-like, witch-trial behaviour.

If the man possibly had it, they could have exposed themselves more, when “man and woman” on the bus decided to get physical with him.

This was the fate of Garnet Blair after a bout of sneezing; it could be ours, too, as some have related a lesser evil eye and brewing anger from others upon coughing and sneezing in public. How can you minimise such misfortune?


Breaking the apparent curse of COVID-19

1. Stay off the streets, where possible. Garnet Blair, however unjustified his beating was, learned the hard way. Though he felt he had to go out to bring his goods to market, he now has vowed to stay home, and no doubt, this farmer will still survive. His going out wasn’t all that important after all, when considered in the greater context of possibly losing his life.

2. Bring along sufficient tissue or disposable napkins and a paper bag or two if you must leave the house. If you must sneeze inside a bus, use these and dispose of them in your paper bag until you reach a garbage receptacle.

3. Walk with a hand sanitiser (at last 62 per cent alcohol), and use after you cough and sneeze in your napkin. People’s minds are more at ease when they see you following known health directives, even if you are coughing and sneezing as opposed to doing so in a harum-scarum way.

4. Wearing a mask, though not a full safety net against contracting the virus, may reduce the amount of sneezing and coughing droplets to which you expose others.

5. If you have none of these, try holding the sneeze or cough, something some are learning to do. Some have ‘rackled’ their throats to stave off a cough, or sneeze, but on the inside, until the way is clear to do so. The novel coronavirus calls for new measures on our part.

6. For coughing, try having a little piece of ginger to slip in your mouth, and keep under your tongue, slightly chewing on it every now and then — a timeless piece of information the book, The Amazing Healing Wonders of Herbs, gives.

7. If your coughing is accompanied by a fever and shortness of breath, get in touch with health care personnel.

A cauldron of fear continues to bubble about a virus that still remains a mystery. Surrounded by myths and fairytales, we need to recognise the facts before us.

No secret potion or magic wand exists to break this spell. It takes constant and conscientious effort on our part to summon and implement basic health reminders. Let’s make them our daily ritual in a move to rid ourselves of the dark spirit COVID-19 has cast over us and break this horrible curse.

Warrick Lattibeaudiere (PhD), a minister of religion for the past 22 years, lectures fulltime in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

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