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By the way: Our panic stricken earth needs a little bit of peace

Aruna Harjani

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, March 13, 2020  /  03:45 pm
By the way: Our panic stricken earth needs a little bit of peace

Pandemic (Shutterstock/melitas)

The ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has put the whole world in a state of constant anxiety.

Schools have been shut down, stock markets have succumbed to fear and employers have asked their staff to work from home. 

In addition, people’s minds have been clouded by rumors. All this has had a mental toll.

All of a sudden Covid-19 has become more dangerous than most diseases, even if the research says that other diseases kill more people.

The scary part of the outbreak is that if a large percentage of the population gets infected and requires medical care, there will not be enough hospitals to accommodate the patients.

However, more infectious than the virus itself is the plague of panic it has caused all over the world.

The trending topic these days is panic.

Yes, it is contagious, yes it has killed many people, but the consequence of the stress and fear over the virus will surely kill more people.

Companies may also go bankrupt because of fear.

Country lockdowns will affect tourism. Thousands of people may lose their jobs. Right now, the stock market is being affected. Many people could go bankrupt within a margin call.

People cannot go to work because transportation has been stopped. People do not want to spend. They cannot go out. How will the economy run?

Another issue triggered by the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, is discrimination against those who are infected.  

I was in a lobby in a hotel abroad with my friends who have East Asian features.

I overheard a husband telling his wife, “Hey, look there are Chinese people, let’s move away from them.”

I was dumbfounded.

I could have given them a piece of my mind but I did not want to start a commotion.

Even funnier, those same friends of mine were looking for masks to wear on the way back to Jakarta because there might be Chinese people on the plane.

I wanted to scream and shout, “How can you be so discriminatory?”

Again, I told myself to just maintain my composure.

A number of videos shared on social media show many Asians living in the West being screamed at to move away because they were associated with the coronavirus even if they were not carriers.

Here in Indonesia, rumors say that if you become infected, you will be shunned and ridiculed by people in your neighborhood.

Seeing the rapid rise of Covid-19 infections can also be very scary.

“What if I get it?” each of us often asks whenever we see the latest update of the infection numbers.

Sometimes, we also find it difficult to discern what Covid-19 information is valid and what is a hoax.

They advise us to wash our hands as many times as we can but for God’s sake, didn’t Tom Hanks, the first A-list celebrity to get infected, wash his?

It drives me crazy when I think about how the virus has reached so many countries.

I saw one video showing people purposely spreading the virus by touching all the buttons in a lift so the next person who touches them will get infected. I hope this video is a hoax, otherwise it will be the answer to my question about how it reached other countries so fast.

On the other hand, there has been a positive side to the Covid-19 outbreak. With many factories closing down, and fewer cars on the streets, pollution has decreased. Families have also clustered together because many now work from home while their children study online.

One WhatsApp message sees a husband thanking the virus because his wife is not going to the mall to shop, and so doesn’t spend as much money.

So, friends, I fold both my hands together, and say “Namaste to you”, as I am tired of hearing, after a million times, that we shouldn’t shake hands. Peace be with you.

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