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Has the Reaction to COVID-19 Gone Too Far?

Updated on April 6, 2020
Scene of panic buying
Scene of panic buying | Source

Stay calm during this pandemic.

The coronavirus (Covid-19) has brought about a sense of panic not seen from any similar virus outbreak in recent memory. Do you remember the swine flu or H1N1 in 2009? It is estimated that between 700 million to 1.4 billion were infected worldwide with the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimating up to 575 400 deaths. That was roughly 20% of the world's population at the time. Yet, Covid-19 has brought out the worse in some of us as compared to the H1N1 pandemic.

People are panic buying when there is no need to. Even though flights all over the world are being shut down, the imports and exports of food produce will mostly continue. Personally, I live in Singapore and our neighbouring country Malaysia has closed its borders to any form of travel for 30 days. Singapore imports 37% of chicken and 17% of fish as well as dairy products from malaysia. This announcement led to another round of panic buying where supermarkets were wiped clean as people rushed to stock up on toilet paper, rice, eggs and frozen food. The prime Minister, Lee Hsein Loong had to reiterate that imports of food from Malaysia will continue despite the lockdown.

There is nothing wrong with stocking up food for you and your loved ones. In fact, you should ensure your family has enough food and daily essentials. However, youshould only take what you need and leave some for other families that may need it just as much as you. I went out to buy some groceries and saw long lines with some people buying 8 bags of rice and one even carrying 2 baskets full of instant noodles and frozen meat. Additionally, when the lines were too long and people got lazy to wait, some simply left their baskets with food lying around the supermarket. There are those who are less fortunate that have a tight budget for groceries. Some supermarkets only have items that are expensive left as people stock up on cheaper alternatives. This affects those less well off as they cannot afford basic essential items.

This applies to hoarding of face masks and hand sanitisers when news of the virus first broke. Most shops like Guardian, Watsons and department stores had masks sold out. There could be people who genuinely need the masks because they are sick and they may spread the virus when they go out because the masks are sold out. This may backfire on those who buy a bulk of masks. In order to ensure we limit the spread of the virus and recover from this pandemic, we must all play a part and ensure everyone has access to masks.

People also tend to look at the covid-19 statistics in the news and feel alarmed. For example, the mortality rate in Italy has drastically increased to even higher than that of Wuhan,China where the virus originated. However,if you dig deeper, in Italy they have a higher older population and the median age of death is 79. This virus disproportionately affects the older population and those with pre-existing conditions such as asthma ,so these numbers are understandable. In neighbouring countries, like Germany, despite a high number of cases, it has a mortality rate less than 1%. This is due to 70% of the victims affected being between 20-50 years old and the better medical facilities they possess. It is perfectly normal to turn on the TV everyday or see the latest news on your phone with more headlines of deaths and feel a sense of dread. However, at this time of writing, more than 260 000 people have recovered from the virus. This figure is despite the fact that there is still no vaccine available. The numbers is a positive sign that medical doctors are doing their best despite the limied resources available to them.

Lastly there has been an increase in racism worldwide directed at the chinese community. There is nothing wrong with calling the virus the "Wuhan Virus". In the past, the term "Ebola" was taken from the name of a river in Africa, the virus "MERS" refers to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and even the deadly pandemic in 1918 that claimed anywhere between 17 and 50 million lives was called the "Spanish Flu" even though it did not originate in spain. However, there is a big difference in this and deliberately discriminating against asians. There has been a spike in rasist attacks worldwide. There have been cases of asians being beaten up, discriminated and accused of spreading the virus. Asian buisnesses have also been affected as people refuse to shop and eat there because of the absurd notion that they will be affected by the virus. This is wrong and highly hypocrytical. In the 20th century, smallpox was a major disease that was brought by european explorers to the rest of the world that led to 300 million deaths. There was no racism directed towards europeans then and there should not be any now. We should help each other, build bonds and come out of this virus stronger than before. The point i am trying to make is that no one spreads a virus on purpose and instead of blaming each other, we should be more respectful towards one another and lift each other up during this global pandemic.

I would like to hear some of your opinions of this crisis in the comments section and how you are handling this difficult situation. I appreciate any feedback and points you have.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Dinesh Pannir


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