According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Nigeria has a total COVID-19 infection of 165,419 and deaths of 2,065. This gives us a fatality rate of 1.25%. This means that out of 100 people infected with COVID-19, at least 99 will survive. Only one will die. Statistically, 1% looks like a negligible number until you apply it to a population of 200 million people and you get 2 million.
Why is it important to have this conversation? It is important because it is indeed possible for some organizations to look at the statistics and think there is no need to take COVID-19 precautions seriously. After all, the vast majority do not get infected and many of those who even get infected are mostly asymptomatic showing no symptoms of the infection. And of those who show symptoms, 99% will survive the disease. So why bother? Why should we disrupt our lives for something that (at its worse), 99% of us will survive? The simple answer is — Because of the 1% who will get infected and die of the disease.
There is a story in Matthew 18:10–14 of the Bible that explains why we need to bother about this 1%. It is a story about a shepherd who had 100 sheep, and one of them wandered off by itself. He left the 99 sheep and go after the 1 sheep and save it. To the shepherd, that one sheep was so important to risk leaving the 99 just to save it.
Let me bring it down-home. In a church of 1000 worshippers, it is very easy for a pastor to ignore COVID-19 because the statistics tell him that even without a miracle or healing service, 99% of members who get infected will recover on their own. And for the one that doesn’t survive, oh well, like weddings and naming ceremonies, the church also has its share of funerals. So, nothing out of the ordinary if one person or two dies. That’s life. People are born and they die.
But the question is WWJD? (What will Jesus Do). Matthew 18:10–14 answers that question quite clearly. Jesus would have done everything in His capacity to save that one person who is most susceptible to dying from COVID-19 infection. He would have done the needful to ensure that person with an underlying health condition, or that person who is in the age group that is vulnerable to the disease, or that person who might not even know he/she is at risk of dying is protected.
He would have done it by obeying the COVID-19 guidelines as directed by public health authorities. He would have done it by ensuring that members of the church wear a mask when coming to church. That they keep social distancing. That they would not meet when they are told not to meet or stay within the number recommended because the life of the one person is so important enough for God to send his son Jesus to die for him. That is the value of one life.
What is the worth of one life in the age of COVID-19? It is valuable enough for us (Government, Religious Organizations, Private Enterprise, Airlines, etc.) to do everything within our power to protect it.