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@wwaycorrigan
Very few things in life are simple black and white affairs, not even Black Lives Matter. And certainly not this coronavirus pandemic.

A bus-stop poster warns about Covid-19 symptoms in Bogotá, Colombia.

Coronavirus, it lurks everywhere.

Little wonder, then, there’s confusion amongst the general public when we don’t exactly have one clear voice from the experts as to the best way to take on this ‘challenge of our time’.

Divisive virus
On the to-wear-or-not-to-wear-facemasks debate, it appears the weight of opinion is coming down on the side that they do play some role in reducing contagion. Nonetheless, there are still dissenting voices in the scientific community putting forward thought-provoking arguments against wearing them.

As for the efficacy of widespread lockdowns when weighed up against the collateral damage they cause in a whole host of areas — not just economically but in terms of lives lost, too — there is an amount of divergence.

In terms of the lethality of Covid-19, well it’s a bit early to be definitive on this one. However, there appears to be convergence across a range of disciplines that, compared to the likes of the Spanish flu, it won’t turn out to be too deadly. Today’s microscopic enemy is quite particular when it comes to its victims.

Indeed, the finest brains in the business are trying to figure out why it picks on some folk more so than others.

(It is important to note that those who contracted the virus and survived may suffer from complications down the line. This remains an unknown. On the other hand, medical procedures that otherwise would have been carried out have been postponed the world over in the coronavirus «war», a factor not to be ignored when speaking of the aforementioned collateral damage.)

For some context — badly missing in most commentaries these days — in terms of overall deaths and adjusting for population growth, this pandemic may come to match that of 1957/58.

Called Asian flu (we wouldn’t get away with that now), it passed through society without much ado by all accounts. We can only surmise people were more aware of their mortality back then. There was also, of course, a fair number of other lethal infections doing the rounds at the time. It wasn’t worth getting all hysterical about one in particular.

‘You would have thought that our leaders would be doing their best to placate a panicked public. On the contrary, state bodies across the globe are feeding the coronavirus frenzy, giving fuel to conspiracy theories.’

Our reaction to coronavirus, however, as you may have noticed, has been anything but ‘qué será, será’. This could be seen, somewhat positively, as our distancing from death over the last few generations. Most of us expect to die on our own terms, so to put it. Thus, the arrival of a viral infection that’s taking the lives of a certain sector of the population a little earlier than expected has caused panic.

It’s also shown how health services in many countries were completely unprepared for even just a modest spike in patient admissions. «Developed» nations, in particular, must be held to account for this fatal shortcoming considering the ageing populations they’ve been (badly) dealing with for years now. The warnings weren’t heeded.

Some countries, admittedly, at least in this early stage, appear to have done well in dealing with the pandemic. In other places, the opposite is the case: the virus is the one in control.

In such an environment, one would have thought that our leaders would be doing their best to placate the public. On the contrary, state bodies across the globe are feeding the frenzy, adding fuel to conspiracy theories.

A Covid operation
Take mortality figures. In our simple life BC (before coronavirus, just in case you’re not following), I don’t think I’m incorrect to assume most of us thought that recording a cause of death was a rather straightforward affair. How wrong we were it seems.

In the last week, we’ve seen how Public Health England has been, if you excuse the phrase, trigger happy in naming Covid-19 as the ‘killer’ when it wasn’t actually so. A public health official in Ireland spoke on the national airwaves of the same issue there.

On top of that, I’ve heard of incidents back home where doctors asked family of deceased if it was OK to attribute the death to the virus when it actually had nothing to do with it. We can extrapolate that similar obfuscation is at play here in Colombia and elsewhere.

Why this is being done, I don’t know. It might be quite innocent, maybe something positive is to be gained by beefing up the Covid-19 death numbers. However, it’s easy to understand how others see a sinister side to it all.

Considering the consensus on whatever measures those in charge and their health experts advise, dissenting voices are left to the likes of Hoover Institution YouTube interviews and a number of side-stream media outlets. These voices aren’t, as some like to view them, crackpots. They are highly qualified professionals. Yet, by virtue of the fact they’re not heard on mainstream media, their views are discarded.

We should all know the dangers of silencing others because what they’re saying doesn’t fit the accepted narrative. What’s more, our modern world has never gone through such times as these. Nobody knows the ‘correct path’, it’s a case of trial and error.

Focusing only on one side does us all a disservice. It also ensures conspiracy theories gain more traction.

Simply wishing away that which makes us uncomfortable isn’t the solution, in the same way as we can’t wish away coronavirus. We have to learn to deal with it whilst trying to continue to live our lives. In other words, it’s a case of aiming to live healthily rather than hiding away in a bid to avoid illnesses. To opt for the latter is not living. (Although, for some maybe it is. Recall the old joke, ‘he died aged 80 but he stopped living at 30.’)

This narrow-minded, black-versus-white approach we’re witnessing is only increasing division, making a bad situation worse. You’d almost be forgiven for thinking the powers-that-be want it that way.
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PERFIL
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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor Irlandés, quien ha estado viviendo en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y cultura, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-colombia-cast.

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