COVID-19: Fears Hiding Behind the Funnies

I often used to be one that had an egg to lay about current events. Once I relapsed I stopped listening to the news on the radio and well, I don’t watch mainstream TV often. The only time I ever watch the evening news is if I’m with The Toppie and The Bean, and that isn’t often. I spend some of my lunch times with them, or stop by for a cup of tea after work, but I’m home by the time the sun sets because I have work to do.

The #CoronaVirus has hit the world hard, and as much as we’d like to deny it, everyone is scared. Sure, the memes going around are funny, but the fact remains, this is a pandemic. The first since the Spanish Flu a hundred years ago, the cholera outbreak a century before that, and the plague a century before that. Whatever Higher Power you believe in, there’s a mass clean-up-cyclone happening, and we’re in the eye of the storm

We’ve all heard the adage, Many a true word is spoken in jest, but in this case, my opinion is that people are hiding their fear behind these funnies.

I’m not out panic-buying toilet paper, or stocking up on tinned foods, but I have asked myself if I would survive for two to three weeks if I had to self-isolate. The short answer is yes, and for the most part, I’d hopefully still be able to work remotely. I have a good employer, who I’m sure would assist all its employees to remain safe amid this crisis.

The thing is, not all employers have the facilities to allow their people to work from home, nor do they have the capital available to pay them for 14 days to stay away from work. What will happen to those poor souls who are already living from hand-to-mouth, or who work for an hourly or daily wage, where the rule of no-work-no-pay applies?

This virus has already resulted in record-lows in all the world’s markets. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange has lost over R1 Trillion (I don’t even know how many zero’s that is, so I can’t covert it to Dollars, nor Euros. All I know is it is a shitload of revenue!)

In many countries in Europe, lock downs are in place. Kudos to them for reacting quickly and putting the welfare of their citizens first. I believe that your example is what led our president to declare a state of emergency too.

While we are not yet forced into self-isolation, all citizens are urged to take precautionary measures, but as @Everjoice Win so rightfully tweeted, what happens to people who live in informal settlements. The conditions in squatter camps are not conducive to preventing the spread of disease.

There are many people that I know feel they shouldn’t be squatting in the first place, or something similar, but this is not the time for judgement. It is a time of compassion and the restoration of hope in human kind.

There are hundreds of conspiracy theories going around about exactly what COVID-19 was intended for. Some believe it’s a chemical weapon developed in a biolab in Wuhan, others believe it is indeed a virus from China used as retribution for Donald Trump wanting to shut Huawei out of the US, and others believe the US manufactured the virus and infected China. While these theories make for great conversation over sushi and gin, they don’t change the fact that this virus is real, and it is bringing the world to its knees.

There is a reason this is happening now, and as is always the case with hindsight, we’ll discover that purpose some time in the future. Right now, we have to put ourselves and our families first, but even more important than that, we need to remain sane, not lose our humanity, and not give into mass hysteria and panic.

Fellow South Africans, and World Citizens, I urge you to remember that centuries ago, diseases spread like wildfire and wiped out thousands of people. We are living in 2020 – things are a lot more advanced than back in Shakespeare’s days (which co-incidentally when plague was raging) when he wrote King Lear. The world has fallen before, but it has always healed, and come back stronger as a result of its adversities.

The novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 may leave us battered and bruised, but the world will come back stronger, with scars to show we’ve lived through it.

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