Well what a year 2020 is turning out to be! Optimism is a little thin on the ground right now but Easter is just around the corner; a time of new life and rebirth, a sign that spring is on its way and summer just around the corner.
Those are things to look forward to, and insomuch as we can still appreciate nature’s beauty and the day to day things that make us happy, there are many reasons to be positive.
But looking back at the last couple of months, the mayhem, panic and fear, I wonder if we’ll ever know the truth about this coronavirus and how a brand new infection developed and spread so fast.
Even those most determined to avoid news coverage, to stick their fingers in their ears and sing ‘la la la’ very loudly, have not been able to escape the constant bombardment of information, guidance and impact.
Someone returning to this country from a news blackout area, might rightly be surprised at the panic buying of loo rolls, given the virus has flu like symptoms rather than an upset stomach. A world scarcity of man size tissues seems reasonable! But loo roll? In a strange roundabout way, it makes clear the public’s main fears regarding 14 days self isolation! Perhaps we could anticipate a surge in bidet installation in next season’s bathroom fashions? Just in case.
You’d have to live on Mars not to know that Coronavirus and its origins have been traced back to a market place in Wuhan in China. Fingers were pointed at bats and pangolins as culprits first off. Pangolins? Not the first animal that springs to mind when trying to make up a scapegoat! But a Chinese sourced virus? Give me a minute…. A quick google search tells me that both SARS and Avian Flu also originated in China. All, in their most serious forms, lead to pneumonia which poses the largest risk to the elderly and infirm. Am I being a bit paranoid here? In a world that funds some of the most bizarre, (and some might say pointless) research imaginable, why is no-one jumping up and down suggesting that this might not be ‘just a coincidence’ or bad luck?
The media have been blamed for stirring up the hysteria and fuelling the flames of fear. In part that’s undeniable, but surely it was also necessary. This has been the first time, certainly in my memory, that an entire nation has had to work together to contain a common enemy; the first time simple freedoms have had to be curbed and the first time limits have been put on consumables to prevent shortages.
Speaking as someone who does the odd bit for a 24/7 news station, I can guarantee that driving a story like this is hard. There’s only so much information to regurgitate every hour, on the hour. So, it’s the fact that this has been a ‘developing’ story with escalating numbers, travel and event cancellations and evolving government guidance that has allowed it to dominate the news for so many weeks.
But, as it has been pointed out, its mortality rate is lower than regular flu – and many other afflictions, as it happens. So why all the broadcast hours? Not for the first time I wonder if we’re getting the full story and whether someone, somewhere knows a little more than they’re saying. Obviously, if the pangolins were genuinely to blame, they’ll never tell and we’ll never know.
Reactions to this pandemic have varied across the globe as, culturally, you’d expect them to. The Brits have taken to social media suggesting that alert levels have risen from ‘miffed’ to a ‘bit peeved’ along with a plethora of gently humorous memes mostly surrounding the importance of hand washing and the impact of panic buying. My favourite? ‘Wash your hands like you’d wash a grey mare on show day!’ That sums it up for me.
If ever there were a time to say ‘Keep calm and carry on’ – this would be it! So stay safe and stay well and let’s hope for a brighter future.