We have in the recent past witnessed a rise in nationalism and this has been very evident when you examine recent election results. Established democracies in Europe and the Americas have seen voters flocking to support more radical politicians both on the left and the right.
There is no doubt that the WHO announcement stating that Covid-19 is a pandemic will further worry people all around the world. Once fear becomes established, we witness strange behaviours such as the bulk buying of tinned food and personal care products in certain countries.
Dr Nathalie MacDermott of The National Institute for Health Research and also an academic clinical lecturer at King’s College London said, “The spread of this virus highlights the importance of countries throughout the world working co-operatively and openly with one another and coming together as a united front in our efforts to bring this situation under control.”
This is a time to come together but I fear with the recent surge in nationalist fervour pulling together will for some of us prove to be difficult at this time of crisis. So often perception and reality are very different and unfortunately social media are exacerbating an already bad situation with misinformation.
When a state of fear takes hold, people act very differently. As Covid-19 has infected most of the world we have stopped travelling, eating out, shopping, etc. The economic impact has already been severe with stock markets crashing and industries such as the airline and hospitality businesses severely impacted.
Airlines are cancelling thousands of flights, parking up aircraft, postponing or cancelling orders for new planes and putting staff on extended leave as they struggle to reduce their overheads. With little or no new bookings coming through the airlines are cutting prices and removing fees such as changing the date of a flight in order to aid their cash flow.
Restaurants have more empty tables than diners and hotel occupancy rates are in free fall across the globe. Planned events are being cancelled and already sports such as football are taking place in empty stadiums. The new James Bond film release has been postponed as countries impose bans on gatherings of more than 100 people in enclosed buildings.
Nobody is immune from contracting the virus and the Hollywood actor Tom Hanks has announced he has fallen victim. Some government ministers have contracted the virus including the UK Health Minister Nadine Dorries.
Edward Argar, a member of Boris Johnson’s UK government was filmed coughing over the despatch box while addressing Members of Parliament during the budget presentation. He is now in isolation due to fears he may have the virus after dining with the health minister.
If ever there was a time for us all to come together this is it. We need everyone to be truthful if we are to get to grips with this pandemic. If individuals, companies or countries hide the truth we will only see the situation get worse. We all know that to date some in leadership positions have chosen not to tell the truth resulting in not only their own people suffering and dying but also infecting individuals who live in other countries.
I’m reminded of one of my favourite songs Let’s work together by Canned Heat with the lyrics “Let’s work together, come on, come on, let’s work together. You know together we will stand, every boy, girl, woman and man.”
Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org