By OBINNA EZUGWU
Myths, conspiracy theories, propaganda or just plain falsehood! These are the pictures painted by the growing scourge of the Coronavirus ravaging the world. The outbreak has rekindled a kind of doomsday predictions, and there are some really cheeky ones.
Nigeria is gradually going from the passive observer country to one in the thick of things. The number of confirmed cases is racing towards 200, two dead and probably many carrying it without knowing on account of lack of sufficient test tools. But beyond the obvious facts about the virus, and its ability to wreak havoc, it has also been shrouded in mysteries, conspiracy theories and propaganda.
With nearly one million people infected globally, including British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and about 28, 000 dead and counting, the Coronavirus pandemic has continued to hold the world spellbound. It’s been, since the beginning of the year, the most topical issue in both the political and economic spheres of mankind. Politics in each country is increasingly being defined by the virus, as leaders get praise or blame over their approach to containing its spread. And global economy is reeling from its devastating impact.
In many countries of the world, it continues to take a toll. In Italy, the current epicenter of the pandemic, over 600 people die daily from it, while nearly 100,000 have been infected. The death toll in Spain, Germany, France, U.S. and elsewhere in the West ranges from hundreds to thousands, and the infected in tens of thousands.
In Nigeria, the country’s seat of power, Aso Rock is on lock down following the positive result of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and a number of his aides. Speculations previously surrounded the president’s status, who has since tested negative .Governors, like those of Bauchi, Bala Mohammed; Kogi, Yahaya Bello, are either already positive while Godwin Obaseki of Edo and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti have gone into self isolation. They all had contact with Kyari who came back from a trip to Germany without submitting to check or going into self isolation.
Many already speak of a certain end time or an apocalypse, of which the history of mankind is replete. There was Y2K apocalypse or the millennium bug that predicted the world would come to an end in 2000. Computers around the world were to crash at the stroke of midnight. Planes would fall from the sky, power systems would fail, bank accounts would be wiped out and nuclear missiles would inadvertently launch. It didn’t happen.
In 2012, the Mayan Apocalypse caused hysteria, too. December 21, 2012 was to mark the end of the world as predicted by the Ancient Mayans and the unrest in the Middle East, solar flares, mystery planets about to collide, were all “proof” of what the ancient Mayans knew would come to pass on 21 December 2012.
“The Eye of Darkness”
Not long after the virus became pronounced, there emerged a widely circulated claim on social media that a 1981 novel, “The Eyes of Darkness” written by Dean Koontz, an American author, predicted the outbreak.
Many across various social media platforms, circulated the write up captured in a photo, They call the stuff Wuhan-400 because it was developed at their RDNA labs outside of the city of Wuhan, and It was the four-hundredth viable strain of man-made microorganisms created at that research center read the screen shot said to have been lifted from a page of the book and often accompanied by the book’s cover, circulated widely.
The photo also included an additional page that mentions the year 2020 and the outbreak of a severe pneumonia-like illness.
There are indeed some facts about the claim, but not entirely. A closer look at the claim would reveal that there are elements of hype and the described characteristics of Wuhan 400 do not tally exactly with Covid-19. Nonetheless, the book mentions that the virus would emerge from Wuhan, the Chinese city where Coronavirus was first reported and some of the symptoms do have some similarities with Coronavirus.
In the book, Koontz describes Wuhan-400 as Chinas most important and dangerous: new biological weapon in a decade. He also writes that it was developed by labs outside of the city of Wuhan. The book further notes that Wuhan 400 has an incubation period of only four hours with a kill-rate of a 100 percent. Once infected, no one lives more than twenty-four hours. Most die in twelve.”
Koontz writes further in the novel that Wuhan-400 causes the secretion of a toxin that literally eats away brain tissue causing loss of control of bodily function. The victim simply ceases to have a pulse, functioning organs, or any urge to breathe.”
This actual claim had fuelled speculations that the virus may be a biological weapon, one of the sundry conspiracy theories being peddled about the virus. In reality, however, there is no proof that the Coronavirus was created in a lab. It is believed to have originated in Wuhan sea food market, where wildlife is sold. Some health experts have suggested that it may have originated in bats and then passed to humans.
Meanwhile COVID-19 infections have a wide range of symptoms, including fever, coughing, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. COVID-19s incubation period is between 1-14 days. According to World Health Organization, the most common incubation time is around five days.
It is worth pointing out that in the first edition of The Eyes of Darkness in 1981, the fictional virus was not named after the Chinese city, but after a Russian locality named Gorki (Gorki-400). In the original version of the novel, the virus was developed outside of Gorki and it was meant to be the Soviets most important, dangerous new biological weapon in the decade.
“End of Days”
Dean Koontz’s “Eye of Darkness” may not have captured accurately the Coronavirus pandemic, but here is another book, by another American author, which does, to a very large extent. And which suggests, well, that it’s part of events that would herald the end of time.
In her book: “End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies About the End of the World,” published in 2008, an elderly psychic Sylvia Browne, who claimed she started receiving premonitions at age 5, made a plumb foretelling of the Coronavirus.
“In around 2020, a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments. Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact that it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it arrived, attack again ten years later, and then disappear completely,” she wrote.
Browne passed away in 2013 aged 77, at which time her book’s popularity had faded. But the Covid-19 virus has brought fresh attention to it, and it has shot up to No. 2 on Amazon’s nonfiction chart, and physical copies are now selling for hundreds of dollars.
Browne’s predictions about the events that would herald the “End of Days” have rekindled to the plague of prophets warning that the Coronavirus is a sign that human kind is approaching the end foretold in the Bible Book of Revelation.
Several people are circulating a number of recent events they deem tallying with the predictions of the Bible: the rise of Islamic extremism; one world government controlled by the UN, one language world, English; disasters like earthquake, tsunamis and wild fires as occurred in Australia recently.
As in the case of the children of Israel in this passage, the arrogance of man against God and lawfully constituted authority led to Gods anger and judgment over the people. People say anything today against God and against His word. The injunctions of the Scriptures, which are Gods commands, no longer matter to us. We query the validity today of the word of God and equally deliberately act against it, said Rev. Samson Ayokunle, President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in a televised sermon last Sunday.
Ayokunle argued that the new pandemic is punishment from God for man’s disobedience of his Word and that those who obey God’s word would be saved.
In some advanced nations, anything about God must not be mentioned in any public event and neither can people worship God nor share the gospel with their neighbours. Doing so is an offence. This pride and arrogance against God came because of advancement in technology. We feel we can do many things without God and thus become god unto ourselves…
In Nigeria, violence has become a daily occurrence, beginning from the wickedness of armed robbers to religious terrorists, such as Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, Boko Haram and ISIS, among others. We equally have banditry and Fulani herdsmens attacks everywhere in the country. People are slaughtered, kidnapped to be slaughtered or for ransom.”
From the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, to political appointees such as Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, the attribution of Covid-19 to God is common place.
“God has allowed COVID-19 to afflict the human race only to redirect our steps back to Him. We have so distorted Gods Word to suit our own human weaknesses and satisfy our greed, even in supposed Holy Places. We should collectively ask for forgiveness and it will all end in praise,” he tweeted on Thursday.
Adeboye had on his part claimed that those who have strong faith in God shall not be infected, even as he said subsequently that he had received revelation of the virus at the beginning of the year.
Sixteenth century French astrologer, Michel de Nostredame, popularly called Nostradamus, has, for centuries, been considered a powerful visionary who predicted the future and it’s not surprising that his prediction has also come up as the world tries to understand the nature of the ravaging new pandemic.
Nostradamus was reputed to have accurately foretold the fire of London, Nazi Germany, the French Revolution and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, amongst other major world events. He was, by many people’s reckoning, an extraordinary prophet.
In his book, Les Prophetes, Nostradamus wrote about a ‘Great Plague’ that was coming to inflict suffering on the world, which according to him, would start in a ‘Sea City’.
Writing about Century 2:53, Nostradamus warns: The great plague of the maritime city.-Will not cease until there be avenged the death- Of the just blood, condemned for a price without crime.
Covid-19 as pointed out earlier, started from a Chinese “Sea City,” the Wuhan sea food market and many have suggested that the plague he spoke about may indeed be the Coronavirus. However, some have pointed out, too, that the prediction is too vague. And indeed, although Wuhan is a maritime city, it is landlocked and situated inside China, not on its shores.
Awake said it, but..
The main issue of December 2005 ‘Awake,’ a monthly magazine of the Jehovah Witness, “The Next Global Epidemic: When?” has also resurfaced as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads. The influenza described in the ‘Awake’ issue, which quoted from an earlier 2003 article in a health journal, ‘Vaccine’ largely tallies with the characteristics of Covid-19.
“According to many experts, it is not a question of if such a vicious flu virus will return but how and when it will return. In fact, some expect a significant new influenza outbreak every 11 years or so and a severe one approximately every 30 years. According to these predictions, mankind is overdue for another pandemic,” the Awake article reads.
“The medical journal ‘Vaccine’ reported in 2003: “It has been 35 years since the last influenza pandemic, and the longest interval between pandemics recorded with certainty is 39 years.” The article continued: “The pandemic virus may emerge in China or a nearby country and could include surface antigens or virulence factors derived from animal influenza viruses.”
“The ‘Vaccine’ article predicted concerning the virus: “It will spread rapidly throughout the world. Several waves of infection will occur. Morbidity will be extensive in all age groups, and there will be widespread disruption of social and economic activity in all countries.
“Excess mortality will be evident in most, if not all age groups. It is unlikely that health care systems in even the most economically developed countries will be able to adequately cope with the demand for healthcare services.”
The prediction is largely accurate, except for the fact that it said mortality rate would be high among people of all age groups. Coronavirus kills mostly the elderly and people with preexisting health problems.