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The social effects of Ebola

For example, the Federal Government has announced that it will start checking the body temperature of people coming on certain flights. Why are they checking…

For example, the Federal Government has announced that it will start checking the body temperature of people coming on certain flights. Why are they checking for high temperatures? Because a fever is one of the early symptoms of Ebola. Other symptoms of Ebola include, weakness, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, rashes, red eyes, vomiting, hiccups, internal and external bleeding and muscle aches. (To be clear, if you experience any combination of these symptoms you should immediately go to a hospital. Ebola patients who survive usually get early treatment.)
This article is about how a healthy person avoids being mistaken for an Ebola patient and have his or her hustle truncated for a long time. Because the moment for example, your temperature is detected as being high, you will be immediately quarantined and observed/tested for Ebola. And you know Nigerians. Even if it turns out to be a wrong call and it was your laptop that created the heat and you are allowed to go after a few days, Nigerians will avoid you for the next three months. Neighbours will ban their children from going to your house.  The church committee you are on will suddenly start having meetings behind your back. Your wife may even suddenly decide to go and visit her cousin for a while. While fear of Ebola is understandable and even expected, we are the lords of stigma and will judge you for even being suspected of Ebola.
You want to avoid all the things that can raise your temperature or make you a suspect at an airport.
1.    Do not sleep on the plane. Getting off the plane looking groggy or red-eyed can lead to profiling. A health officer from the Ebola team will pull you aside for questioning and with social media, within two minutes your family and entire community will hear on Facebook and Twitter that you are being tested for Ebola. Even if all the health officer did was ask you one question before letting you go.
2. Do not take too much alcohol before flying or landing. This gives off at least two symptoms of Ebola: red eyes, and weakness.
3. Do not slouch or walk sluggishly as you leave the plane. Walk upright. March if you have to. Sing songs. Show signs of strength and vitality. Anything that will make them not suspect you have Ebola.
Now, one consequence of the Ebola scare is that you may become paranoid and suspect every passerby of having the virus. Sometimes extreme worry can stress you out which can in turn reduce your immunity and make you have headaches and all. Then you start really freaking out and go to the hospital because of the headaches which you think might be Ebola. Even though the doctor will tell you it is only stress, people will hear that you freaked out and went to check if you had Ebola, and then the stigma will begin. That kind of stigma takes months if not years to disappear.
So, how do you put your mind at ease about being exposed to the virus? I do not suggest that you stop touching people altogether, but if you are that kind of thorough person, here are ways to politely avoid touching people in public:
1.    If you are a northern woman this is easy. Just say you do not shake hands with men. When you meet women tie your veil in such a manner that your hands are hidden from view. Make exaggerated gestures with your head to distract them. Say hello but quickly add that you are in a hurry.
2. If you have nail polish, use it often. Always tell people you want your nail polish to dry. If there is anything we respect in this country, it is the right of nail polish to dry undisturbed.
3. Tie a bandage around your hand before you go out and tell people you have a fracture. They will not attempt to shake you and will even feel sympathy for you.
4. For people who are stubborn, pick your nose exaggeratedly just before they want to take your hand. No one wants to shake someone who has just finished digging into their nose.
May the virus not find us.

Ps. Last week, 35 members of the Muslim Brothers in Zaria met their death in a skirmish with soldiers which happened during what was supposed to be a peaceful procession to protest the killings in Gaza. Our army and security forces need to operate more intelligently to avoid that type of high casualty rates among non-combatant civilians. We are a nation at war and we cannot afford to have one more aggrieved group. The army cannot kill as a first response to what it deems aggression. Brute force does nothing but create more violence. We should learn from our 2009 mistake with the Yusufiyya movement. We should investigate those killings and give them justice.

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