Coronavirus, no longer a joke…
Just few weeks ago people were sharing photographs of glasses of corona beer, joking in a joyful manner not to place the blame of the virus on the beer.
That followed shameful racist comments. There were also claims that there was indeed an American conspiracy against the Chinese. No one asked whether such things could be possible. A genetic-coded or DNA-sensitive biological warfare has become a possibility, even though all such heinous weapons should be banned and declared as crimes against humanity.
A while later, first news of the unfortunate death of an elderly Western man and consecutive reporting that the virus indeed affected Western people, as well as Middle Easterners and South Americans, came out. There were cases of the infection in many countries and such, with the perception of the possibility of a biological warfare having started to die out. Yet, many people continued to believe either the American conspiracy theories or the unverified stories that the deadly virus contamination started from a top secret biological-chemical experimental military facility in the Chinese town of Wuhan.
For a period, people exchanged “scientific” reports that Wuhan was also the epicenter of the Black Plague – one of the most devastating pandemics in human history that killed more than 75 million people, up to 200 million, according to some historians – of the 1347-1351 period that affected Eurasia as well as Europe. Particularly for conspiracy theoreticians, it was a golden claim. The Black Plague of the 1300’s was repeating itself with a coronavirus, and some people would perhaps aim to solve the global overpopulation problem by eliminating the Asian race and some others who might be deficient either because of advanced age or immune system problems.
As the virus continued to spread and claim the lives of people from all groups, ethnicities and geographical locations, people started to realize that it is neither a joke, nor limited to the Chinese. Even if it might not yet have reached the dimensions of a pandemic, it definitely became an epidemic to fight, in which all nations must cooperate in good faith with all possible resources they might possess.
The virus is not like illegal Mexican workers that Mr. Donald Trump might believe could stop by erecting a wall, or foreign entrepreneurs who might be sacrificed to save the local and rather greedy industrialists and businessmen. News bans, spreading fear among journalists and placing scores of critics and rights advocates behind prison bars and such tactics cannot scare the virus. Cooperation in good will, transparency and allowing accurate news flow are musts.
Closing border gates with Iran, for example, on grounds that there is an epidemic in that country is a measure in goodwill to prevent the spread of the virus. Effective controls at border gates, airports, ports and probably restrictions on major public events might be useful. Yet, confining people to their homes, restricting international travel and total ban on flights might produce serious economic losses.
Already there has been a sharp decline in the number of tourist reservations in Turkey, not only for March and April, but including the summer months. Italy, which according to reports has more virus cases than Thailand, is suffering from a sharp drop in the number of people visiting the country. People have given up plans for trips to far-eastern countries but that’s not all, many of our friends planning to visit Rome, Barcelona and such major European destinations or making an exciting trip to the Canary islands in the months ahead have all started pondering whether they should postpone to a better period. Cruise tours are no longer a preferred touristic choice.
The coronavirus is no longer a joke. We should all take measures and attach highest possible importance on hygiene. But we should not allow being held captive with the fear either.