Are you ready for COVID-XX?
July 14, 2020 | 5:12 PM
by Mohamed Issa Al Zadjali
Mohamed Issa Al Zadjali

Muscat: For the last two months, we have seen a huge increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Oman, despite the restrictions and lockdowns put in place by the government.

Initially, most of the positive cases in Oman came from the expatriate community, but now, the source of the majority of cases has shifted to Omanis. Some blame the authorities for not taking a more restricted approach with a 100% lockdown, and others blame those who socially gather, despite the guidelines.

The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to give recommendations and facts (I feel we are guinea pigs), almost weekly, on how to avoid catching the virus and to avoid its spread from one person to another, sometimes even contradicting its own expert advice given previously. Experts still don’t seem to agree yet on the origin of this virus (although in my opinion, it is man-made). It is a perfect storm for massive confusion, worry, fear and frustration. How many of those emotions are you feeling?

Long before the pandemic, the queue to see a doctor was long, and we had to wait even months to see a specialist, and hospital clinics were packed to capacity. Around the world, there is a growing appetite for people to see a doctor. This hasn’t always been the case. A couple of retired nurses were speaking about “the good old days” when patients came to the hospital and stayed for only one night. When patients were less sick, the night shift was an easy task as hospitals weren’t so full.

That began to change in the 1990s. Patients grew in numbers, required more care, and became more serious. Many began requiring chronic care, which is quite difficult and time-consuming.

Now, there is no rest in the night shift. Those days are over.

Symptom chasers: Today, many are in the queue to see a doctor for a diagnosis. We present a collection of symptoms to the doctors and after the diagnosis, we get a ‘magic’ pill. This pill helps us overcome the sickness. Rarely does the pill cure us. We stay sick, the diagnosis becomes part of our identity. It’s part of our life now, forever.

Symptom chasing has become a common necessity but it is far from a “normal” way to live. Our body has the capacity to fight against infections and heal itself. But when it can’t, one seeks the help of a doctor. What if, instead, we take a closer look at why the body isn’t healing itself by reflecting on our mental, physical and nutritional habits?

These happen to be the three primary influences over one’s health, no matter the age. They are not the only influences but they are very important influences that each of us does have quite a bit of control over, if we choose to.

One’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, stresses, food, drink, and movement throughout any given day have an immeasurable impact on gut health. As it happens, at least 80% of our immune system is in the gut, as well. For far too many, when one digs deep down into this, they will find three primary reasons behind the collection of symptoms; mental, physical and nutritional.

What we think, feel, and eat, combined with our movement, directly impacts the immune system. All of these components either help or hurt our body’s ability to heal itself. There is no middle ground.

In my opinion, and especially in light of this pandemic, it is time to re-evaluate our lifestyle in order to live healthier, happier and longer, and stop blaming the government and others for our problems. We need to rethink our daily diet (absolutely anything we put into our mouth), our lifestyle, harmful habits such as smoking, and getting quality sleep. Poor sleep, all by itself, can ruin one’s immune systems.

The majority of us eat just to fill our stomach with rice and meat on a daily basis. On top of that, we consume sodas and lots of coffee and tea with added sugar. Not a single item listed here boosts the immune system. Is the picture I’m painting starting to become clearer?

We compare ourselves to other countries that have lesser numbers of coronavirus cases, and people in our country believe the solution is all in the lockdown and social distancing. Many pin their hopes on a vaccine. What if I told you the real solution is inside you. It’s your immune system!

With all due respect to the experts, I really don’t agree that the only solution to flattening the curve is social distancing, lockdowns, wearing masks, washing hands often and, eventually, a vaccine. This novel virus is going to live with us for decades to come, just as HIV did. (Does anyone remember this rarely mentioned virus? Do all of you reading know what this virus even is?)

Corona isn’t going away and we can’t follow these strict protocols forever. Vaccines never work 100% and not everyone gets one. At some point of time, for the sake of our mental health, physical health, the economy, our children’s education (and not necessarily in this order), we have to come together as a society, both physically and mentally.

Safer than wearing a mask, safer than social distancing, safer than hand washing, safer than any vaccine, is the solution to strengthen our immune system. And when each one of us makes that decision, it is not only corona that we are protected against, it is all the sickness and we will find that we no longer have a need to chase symptoms.

A functioning economy is critically important for any nation to survive much less thrive. It’s critically important for families to flourish. Oman’s ability to prosper has been difficult over the last few years due to the drop in oil prices, but we are surviving and that’s just as important.

Today, however, the economic picture is very grim in light of the pandemic. It begs the question, is the lockdown necessary? If so, for how long is it tolerable?

At some point, the lockdown of society will have lasted for too long. Businesses won’t be able to reopen. Families will suffer income losses. New jobs won’t be available. I don’t know how long is too long. I don’t know that anyone does. For some businesses, that time has already arrived. Without money flowing from one business to another, trickling down to employees who use that money to support their families’, all that has been built up over the last 50 years is in danger.

The economy, like the citizens and residents of Oman, is also struggling to survive the virus. And like the people of this great nation, the economy must learn to survive, and eventually thrive, in a COVID-19 world. Unlike the public, the businesses are without an immune system. They’ve either got paying customers to keep them open or they don’t. Right now, most of the businesses don’t have many, and even those that remain open are struggling right now.

I believe that businesses cannot remain closed for much longer. If that happens, there will be many businesses that won’t reopen again. I am not saying keeping businesses alive and thriving should be at the cost of the public...of course, not. But I am suggesting that we all take some responsibility on our shoulders to safely reopen our country.

Imagine, if we had taken measures to ramp up our immune system two months ago, maintained social distancing, wore masks, we would have been in a very different place right now. Imagine if the lockdown is lifted and businesses are able to reopen, because each one of us takes personal responsibility for our health.

It only takes one person, you, to succeed in ramping up your immune system in order to be protected. Stop looking to the government to take custody of our lives and protect us. The government doesn’t have full control over the choices made at the grocery store or what you eat.

Choose to protect yourself by strengthening your immune system. After all, we are lucky to live in Oman, where the sun is bright. Use it for your health! In turn, this will help to restart the economy. Let’s not lose in less than a year what took half a century to build.

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