What Maybe More Dangerous Than a Pandemic

As of today, there are nearly 1.7 million corona virus cases and more than 102,000 deaths reported so far. Reports after reports indicate that there is no sign of the infection slowing down.

In the past few weeks, our lives have changed tremendously. We were asked by the governments and health officials in our respective countries to stay home. If you are not an essential worker or if you think you can do nothing to help others, this may be your only way to save lives. It may be your “ONLY” way but it has a huge impact.

However, fear about the transmission of the virus is sweeping through like wildfire and perhaps that is okay because it makes us more cautious and more inclined to heeding advice to stay home and limit outward bounds from our bubbles.

There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

– Johan Wolfgang von Goethe

Fear (or the lack of it) and worry might be driving most of us to take to heart the necessary actions we have to ride out in these very troubled times, but if these same fear and worry are tangled with ignorance as a few people wave around, then this maybe more dangerous than the nasty and deadly virus spreading all over he world.

In the Philippines, a handful of health workers were displaced in the height of the Covid 19 crisis because they were evicted by their landlords. There were reports that chemical solutions were thrown at a couple of nurses by strangers. Health workers and other hospital personnels are being denied using transports and entering eateries. People who died from coronavirus infection are refused by most funeral homes and crematoriums.

In Australia, there were reports that a few health workers have been spat at, abused and attacked as well. In the US, numerous Asian-Americans are cited as coronavirus carriers. There is an increasing display of acts of racism, discrimination and xenophobia which could also possibly prejudicially aided by President Trump’s referencing to coronavirus as Chinese virus. In NZ, a group of about 60 young backpackers and tourists were caught partying defying the Level 4 lockdown protocol justifying that the group was their bubble. Many young people believe that even if they get the virus, they will remain asymptomatic so they are not frightened.

In the early days of the spread of virus in Italy, there had been many reports and shots on cell phone videos of a few Asian looking persons furiously punched or verbally attacked by few locals accusing them of transmitting the virus. The victims have been living and working in Italy most of their lives and they were not even Chinese. In Germany, about 63 clubs and bars were shut down by police as young people were holding lockdown parties. They were taping up the windows and owners were allowing only customers who precedently registered.

In Mid-March the announcement of the the temporary closure of Iran’s two holy sites, the shrine of the eight Shiite Imam Reza in Mashhad and the shrine of Fatima bint Musa in Qom drew a turbulent protest from a small group of stern religious people demanding them to be reopened.

Then let’s go back to empty supermarkets in many countries especially on the day the pandemic was announced by WHO or shortly before the lockdown was declared in our respective countries or states. It is understandable that the threats brought about by corona virus crisis drive people to panic and get tremendously anxious. Panic and anxiety usually stop us to permit the part of the brain that is responsible for good planning and sound decision making that in turn, leads us to carry out appropriate actions in the face of an extremely critical situation. So people fight for their inalienable right for the last roll of toilet paper.

The corona virus is taking the world by storm. Most countries may have been unprepared but we know how to prevent the massive spread of the deadly infection. Everyday, we are reminded to limit going out from our own bubble, to use masks, to wash our hands, to not touch our faces, to sanitize surfaces, put tissues in the bin or bag immediately, sneeze on your elbow, to keep practicing social distancing etc. etc. Most of us understand all these precautionary measures. Suddenly, many of us too became expert on hygiene. at least in this particular area.

But what some forget is that our frontliners, our hospital workers are not automatically Covid19 carriers. These are the people who risk their lives everyday to take care of patients whether they are infected with Covid 19 or are suffering from other illnesses. I’m sure they too wish they could go home and be with their families. Many have lost their own lives trying to save others. So to attack, abuse and assault them just because some believe they are all infected is beastly.

Likewise, to discriminate Asians and the Chinese people in particular and subject them to racial abuse and bullying because the virus is thought to have originated in China is NOT fair at all. Having small slanted eyes does not equate to being a Covid 19 carrier. Let’s be very clear on that.

Being young and strong does not mean being invincible. That doesn’t mean that they can break lockdown protocols. Younger groups may be infected but can be asymptomatic. So to continue meeting their friends in parties is a very easy way to spread the infection which may not only result to clusters but transmissions to bigger and wider communities. They should know that they may inadvertently cause the death of their grandma or grandpa.

It’s great to have faith, to have a strong belief to a higher power. But some should not be reckless and stubborn to think that they can be saved without doing their part.

And of course… the stockpiling of toilet papers and the sanitizers and foods and other supermarket stuff. Yes, we are all facing a global crisis but I believe it is not the end of the world. Try to leave some for the others.

We have been forced to change the ways we used to live abruptly because of the pandemic. We are all stressed out. We worry about the uncertainties of our lives. Many lost their jobs and many too have already lost their lives. But to continue to be ignorant can hurt us more. Ignorance is itself a disease that is contagious. It can bruise, it can damage and it can kill. It is very very dangerous.

Now is the time that we educate ourselves. Now is the time to let the frontal cortex of our brain to do its job. Now is the time to make ourselves well informed… not of fake news or just any newsfeeds in our social media but of information from reliable sources. Know the difference. Behaviors will definitely change for the better.

Stay home. Save lives. Stay safe. Be kind. Don’t be ignorant.

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