Therefore, shielding from a virus we still don’t know everything about isn’t an overreaction. It’s a sensible precaution-Sam Renke 

At the heights of the corona virus in Kenya, we were giving out a book by John Piper at the radio station . It’s a book that seeks to remind readers that God is at work in this moment in History. People would pass by our office and pick the book over the week days . Almost everyone who wanted it came and it was a good experience.  A certain lady , however, wanted the book but she was not into the idea of getting out of the house and going all the way to pick it. Her issue? An underlying condition and her age. We had to send her a pdf copy of the book so that she could be able to enjoy it like the other listeners who came physically. Having been there , I understood her. She was not being paranoid or overreacting .

Shielding is the art of protecting from danger, risk, or unpleasant experience. When the corona virus landed in the country , people with underlying medical conditions like diabetes were deemed vulnerable to the disease as it could cause more severe symptoms if they could get it. This left most of them confined in their houses , with anxieties over getting the disease. Working from home felt different for them owing to the red flag on underlying conditions. Shielding was the best way out . 

It’s been 7 months since the pandemic hit the country and people are getting tired of the word coronavirus  . Wearing masks and social distancing is slowly fading away from the face of the country . Political rallies are slowly re-starting , places of worship are being reopened, schools might also be reopened soon  . I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will go well from here. 7 months later , however , there are people who are still shielding. Like the lady I mentioned , there are those who are still skeptical about outside being opened. 

Places of worship were opened a few weeks ago in the country. There are thousands of people who have never gone back to church physically , for example,not because they don’t have faith that God will protect them but because they are still shielding. They remain behind and catch church services through Facebook live streams or YouTube. Others prefer tv or radio stations for their spiritual nourishment. There are those who have never stepped out of their estates, those who have never come back to the capital city , those who moved out to different parts of the country , all in the name of shielding. 

Since an expose on how the funds that were supposed to help in fighting the virus had allegedly been siphoned into personal accounts , the pandemic narrative took a major turn.  There has been a shift in attitude towards it seven  months down the line. It’s existence , to some , is now a doubt . The daily briefings by the ministry of health is not something to look forward to anymore. However , beneath all these chaos , the first red flag on underlying medical conditions is still up . There is no vaccine , yet , and that will keep the red flag up for a while. People with diabetes , cancer , hypertension and other underlying conditions are still , and will keep shielding .

We all want to go back to the normal we were used to or quickly jump to the new one . Whichever comes our way , it’s easy to say that we all just want to step away from this season . However, someone’s decision to continue shielding shouldn’t be viewed as a way of stopping the curve from flattening. There is no official vaccine ,yet, so shielding might be the way out for thousands of people around the country . After all , the new normal might mean we get used  to the coronavirus . That means people with other chronic medical conditions will be walking around with masks for a long time , and it’s okay . It should not be seen as an overreaction but a sensible precaution that we all should play a part in .

When I was under medication for the heart condition I had years ago , shielding was a big deal in my life. There were things  I could not engage in because I knew the risk . Anyone with a medical condition knows the risks involved in their space and they will live unapologetically , especially right now. The thought of getting severe symptoms and even death from the virus is already hard to deal with.They will not show up for that baby shower , that wedding , the family hangout and even the church service . Whether or not they apologize for not being there , it’s up to you and me to accept it . 

All that matters right now is we respect someone’s decision to continue shielding, whether we understand it or not . We need to unlearn that culture of blaming people for trying to protect themselves. The same way we needed to stop blaming the spread of Covid-19 on selfishness or thoughtless behaviour . It  distracted us from the real problems. 

Respect,compassion and support for those who decide to keep shielding because of underlying medical conditions and other personal reasons . That’s my role in the fight against the corona virus going forward. If we see them through it until there is a vaccine , it’s a win for all of us . It also calls for meaningful conversations on the way forward for such people. Here,too late to start asking for care packages or financial support because of the pandemic but it will never be too late to ask for a better system . The pandemic completely dissected our healthcare system and exposed the faults to us .

Thank you for passing by. I wrote this after reading an article by my favorite columnist, Sam Renke . She is an actor, broadcaster , public speaker and a disability Campaigner. I have put a link to her other articles below.

You can also enjoy the song for this article. It’s City on a Hill by Casting Crowns that was released in 2011. It’s hard hitting . A reflection of the society today and goes with the topic

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