Communicaton During A Pandemic
These are tough times where key messages delivered irresponsibly can result in a major disaster. With a pandemic bringing the world to its knees, it is the government and the medical officials who are conveying key messages.
Looking into how bad the situation is in each country we can get a picture of how well the message of the virus was conveyed, how seriously it was considered. The U.S was considered the epitome of everything great since the cold war. But now with a president, who is is the human form of the American smugness, they have more than 800,000 active cases and almost 45,000 dead from the virus. The numbers are higher than the second in line, Spain, by a large margin. Taking a look into where everything went wrong, we circle back to Trump. The CDC warned the president and the whole nation, a long time before the situation was dire in the U.S, that the question they should ask is not “will the virus come to the U.S” but “when”. The Trump administration downplayed the situation and made jokes out of it, so much so that the people of the U.S are marching in huge numbers asking to end the lockdown. They have not understood the seriousness of the virus because Trump, their beloved president, has not taken it seriously. The death rate in the U.S is about 11% as of now.
To see how this is Trump’s fault we should look into how Germany and Kerala, the southern Indian State, handled the crisis. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was very careful when it came to addressing her people about the pandemic. She used statistical facts and figures to let her people understand how serious the situation is. She is calm and composed, as always, and states the facts and does not give out personal feelings or guesses that have no scientific backing. Watching her press conference gives out the feeling that she knows what she is talking about. This is reflected in how the German people are reacting to the lockdown. Even though they are frustrated with the lockdown, they understand why it is necessary and why they should comply. Even though Germany has not made wearing masks mandatory, people still choose to wear it because they understand the gravity of the situation. Even Though Germany has a comparatively higher number of reported cases, the death rate is just under 3%, and they have not yet exhausted their healthcare and has flattened the curve to a large extent.
The case with Kerala is not so different. Kerala has experience dealing with viruses as the state was brought to a standstill with the deadly NIPAH virus a few years back. That situation was handled more than efficiently that the state had an idea of how to tackle such tricky situations. With the news of the virus coming to the state, the government took over control of the information by addressing it very early on. The Cheif Minister and Health Minister went to press conferences on a daily basis updating the people on the situation of the virus and how the government is planning to tackle it. The government, as it is usually done by this specific government, used the help of celebrities to sent our proper information about the virus and how to protect everyone. Both the Cheif Minister of Kerala Mr.Pinarayi Vijayan and Health MInister Ms Shylaja are calm personalities and they are very much relaxed when conveying information. Their face and body language give the viewers the impression that they have things under control and that there is nothing to worry about. The language they use and the gestures are neither threatening nor do they feel like they are stressed. Such messaging gives out information and keeps people from stressing out. The state has a death rate of 0.5% while the national rate is almost 5%.
The messages sent out by able politicians and doctors will inform people about the crisis all the while not stressing the out. Doctors from various hospitals around the world have shared their experience working with COVID-19 patients. Those with good communications skills and an understanding of how the world is feeling right now, sent out informative materials that have helped people to better understand the crisis. They have not created panic but have informed people about how they can be safe.