“Slow down and think. Panic doesn’t solve problems; it just creates new ones” – Jason Fry (The last Jedi)
The announcer’s voice echoed hollowly in the cavernous arrival hall. Flight 405 had arrived on time. Despite the good news, there was nobody listening. An uninterested janitor continued mopping the floors slowly as he listened to his mountain village solo guitar melody. The staff behind the counter wrapped up in biohazard suits, medical masks, and goggles unexcitedly scrolled through their Instagram feeds as they waited for their shift to end. The baggage carousel drearily revolved aimlessly hoping for a bag or two to make its day a little more interesting. Its mechanical limp was the only sound. The airport was totally and completely dead.
Outside, the battle raged on. People were fist fighting over the last roll of toilet paper. Pharmacies sold hand sanitizers and face masks to the highest bidder from hidden stock under the counter. Stock markets crashed and burned as trillions of dollars were wiped out overnight. Banks reduced withdrawal limits to $100 per day. Borders were closing worldwide. Employees started working from home. Schools and universities closed until further notice. Economists predict the largest recession in mankind’s history, as the price of petrol crashes to $30. The topic of conversation globally narrowed down to one: The corona pandemic and if the world will survive. The zombie apocalypse is upon us.
As governments and leaders lock down cities, quarantine populations, stop all public events, block borders, and prepare hospitals only one question remains: Now what? As of today, the global rate of the infected is over 130,000 with an average death rate of seven per cent. Oil toppled faster than it did during the 1991 war with Iraq. Stock markets keep hitting their emergency 15-minute mandatory freeze as panic selling reaches critical levels. Quarantine camps are anticipating over-capacity as all governments struggle to protect their populace.
This international pandemic has shown the best and worst of mankind and has clearly demonstrated how fragile life really is. Millions of volunteers fight alongside doctors, governments, and military responders. Conversely, millions also selfishly hoard products and battle to save themselves. Greedy suppliers raise the price of life-saving products instead of giving them out for free to support the poor, needy, and desperate.
A dark cloud hangs over the globe as certainty wanes and panic takes over. A tiny organism: The Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) has forced us to self-reflect as it crosses borders, nationalities, religions, race, and all other manmade constructs while it sprawls over the globe. Our greatest accomplishment: Globalisation (where the world became smaller and closer) turned out to be our biggest weakness in the face of a biological threat. Luckily our interconnectedness may also turn out to be our saviour, as information and critical news spreads faster than the virus. And that is what will save us.
Although Covid is much more infectious than other viruses, it isn’t as deadly. Corona mortality numbers clearly demonstrate that old or immunocompromised patients are the most susceptible, and that most people can and will survive it. The normal flu kills 400,000 people per year. Malaria kills 660,000. Aids kills 800,000 and 1,500,000 die from car accidents each year.
So far, only 5,000 people have died from Covid 19. The recovery rate is 93pc! But somehow this coronavirus has captured our imagination and panic rules supreme. Advancements in medicine, technology, and teams of researchers around the world will eventually create a vaccine or cure and life will go back to normal. Covid is just a virus; one among 320,000 other types and we will definitely crush it, just like Swine flu (2009) SARS (2002), Hong Kong flu (1968) and the Asian flu (1957).
In the meantime, we should think rationally, behave reasonably, and not panic. Follow government directives and leave the worrying to the professionals. Test yourself if you feel sick. If you can work from home, stay there for a while. If we reduce the amount of physical interactions, the virus has no way to spread. Most importantly, Covid has given us a chance to show our best. This is the time to self-reflect and figure out if we are part of the problem or part of the solution. Distributing gloves and sanitizers to the poor and illiterate is not only an act of charity, it’s a defence mechanism. Educating the illiterate is a similar step. Staying calm and rational affects people around you, and in turn spreads through society. We can and will conquer this virus. Recovery rate is 93pc remember. Just keep cool and be part of the solution.