COVID 19 TESTING : The New pandemic

As coronavirus ravaged throughout the world like a wildfire after it was discovered in Wuhan City in China, it became the responsibility of each government to ensure it protected its citizenry from this never seen before beastly form of SARS. Each country laid out strict measures to ensure this disease is put under control. From the PCR and Rapid tests, through lockdowns, quarantines to curfews. All these to ensure everything is put under control to prevent further spread, and to account for any single spread of the disease. All these measures were commendable as indeed, they ensured the people of this world are secure especially before this strange virus was decoded and necessary treatment developed. Many months later, the countries that were badly ravaged with COVID developed vaccines that were to put the disease under complete control. And with the vaccine, we witnessed businesses and economies re opening up. The empty stadia throughout Europe opened up for football fanatics to watch Ronaldo dribble the ball and acclaim his position as the undisputed GOAT, schools were re opened for in person classes, offices were opened and this bringing to an end the era of zoom meetings which were endlessly dramatic, you remember the teacher who forgot to turn her video off during a live session with her students and went straight into the sheets at the watch of her students. . With the vaccines, life slowly went to normal. Government relaxed restrictions from doing away with curfews and lockdowns and the Airbuses and Boeings going back to roar in the clouds. However, what is most perplexing is that the COVID testing protocols have never been eased especially for foreign travelers. Even with the invention of the vaccines, and mass vaccinations having been done, immigration department at different ports of entries of different nations have refused to relax at all the COVID 19 testing protocols from what it were during the pre vaccine era, and this leads me to opine that the current pandemic is not COVID 19 but COVID 19 testing for immigration which has now been turned as a full blown business and source of revenue. But why do I say so?

As alluded above, all of us expected that with the vaccines in place, countries will be more friendly and see human beings as part of the global village rather than citizens of particular countries and ease their process of travel throughout the world, however that is not the case. Countries are now using COVID 19 as a new bottleneck in achieving globalization. Look here, for you to travel anywhere in the world currently away from your country of residence, apart from the normal immigration documentations, one needs a negative COVID 19 certificate not older than 72 hours, another test in the country they are visiting just at the port of entry, quarantine in specified areas and another test a few days later before you are allowed to undertake your business in the country. The average cost of Covid testing is about $55 and that of a quarantine facility is about $100. This means that for one to travel, they will need an average of $250 just for COVID protocols. I find this extremely unfair and retrogressive and of course intended at raising revenue and rarely to control COVID. Look here, after vaccinations, life everywhere has been re opened and all one needs is a proof of vaccination, and therefore, foreign travel should also follow suit. A COVID Vaccination is suffice to control COVID and if we will talk about the effectiveness of the vaccine, then we must also talk about its effectiveness and authority in foreign travels. Governments have turned COVID 19 testing as a new cash cow beside the exorbitant fees they charge for visa and immigration documentation.

This has in totally brought new hurdles in achieving the idea of globalization , which has previously been affected by strict immigration rules and expensive air fares. Now, with the COVID costs, it is even harder for a person to visit another part of the world. Humanity shouts how it wants to turn the world into a global village, but at the same time creating difficult measures towards achieving that. I believe that in the quest to achieve the open borders and visa less agenda, we must start first by dismissing the none issues like COVID testing for foreign travelers in an era where we boast of massive technology in the field of virology. Seemingly, COVID is going to be with us much longer, or even forever and COVID testing for foreign travelers might end up as the new normal, and this beats the logic of the existence of vaccines. If life must go on as it were before COVID, COVID testing as a ticket for foreign travel must be done away with.

Other countries have also turned COVID 19 Testing into a tool of diplomatic war . Severally since Covid started, you have heard of red lists. A country putting another on a red list and ordering that citizens from the said country cannot travel, and then just like a joke, the country that was put on the red list retaliates without any professional reason. The COVID thing now has become such a child’s play. Read somewhere of a student who had her scholarship withdrawn because she could not make it in school on time because Canada and Nigeria were embroiled in the game of Covid red listing.

Humanity has achieved so much like the current project of sending an object to the nearest star called Proxima Centauri, something that was unimaginable five years ago yet back here on earth the biggest incumbrance to travel around the planet is a test for a disease with a vaccine already. I think we are capable of doing much more greater things than just callously weaponizing and commercializing COVID.

And I am not alluding that COVID Testing is wrong, not at all. All I am saying is that it is completely unnecessary to keep COVID testing as part of foreign travel protocol when we have the vaccines, furthermore, I am noting that with the unaffordable prices charged for the same, COVID testing for travelers is no longer about health but a source of revenue and this has greatly made foreign travel extremely expensive beating the calls of globalization. Life is back to normal, or rather almost, COVID might be with us forever, and we must think of ways to do away with the COVID 19 testing for foreign travel. Definitely I am not an expert but I presented my opinion as a realist who finds COVID 19 testing as part of immigration completely gratuitous.

By Lincoln Oyugi

Just as Isaac Newton died a virgin, I'll die a writer!

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