The Virus

I just received this news notification – ‘Coronavirus: No new confirmed cases in Singapore for a second day. MOH reiterated that there is currently no evidence of community spread of the virus in Singapore. None of the 18 previously announced cases is critically ill. All of them remain in stable condition, and most are improving, the ministry added.’ For the first time since the virus outbreak, I shared this piece of news. How will people respond? Especially those who have been helping create a doomsday end-of-the-world scenario. Those who have been diligently forwarding any and every piece of bad news of the virus spread. There is a rush, almost a delight in updating blow by blow how the spread is worsening, how precarious, how the fatalities are piling up. I don’t quite understand this behaviour. Because collectively it creates paranoia and even panic. I don’t see the good intentions of such news spread anymore. In fact I see an attitude bordering on creating fake news. Especially when some do more than forwarding news, they interpret the news, adding a dimension of alarm, creating more fear.

Someone told me with certainty that Singaporeans coming back from China would not be allowed into Singapore. Wrong. That Australians going back home from China are quarantined on an island! Nonsense. Someone else advised we should avoid the Chinese like the plague. Yes, some of us are doing just that, but on so many levels, it is not the right thing to do. That the Chinese had it coming, that they deserve this retribution. This is so wrong and we all know it. Where is our empathy as a people? Have we forgotten that the majority of our population are Chinese? For the bushfires in Australia, we are all concerned and we pray for the Australians. Because the fires will not spread beyond Australia? While this Cornavirus spread beyond Wuhan hence some of us want to ostracise the Chinese? Health workers are working overtime. Our clinics are on standby to open 24 hours. Governments are making tough decisions. Closing borders may appear to be an immediate solution. But it is controversial and not a long term answer. This is undeniably a world health problem, a crisis. Most of us may not be a part of the solution of this outbreak. But we don’t have to be a part of the problem. Helping create a bleak sense of negativity can create panic. Panic buying of masks, for example, deprive some people who really need them. If anything, SARS taught us this can be a health blip, that we will overcome it. China is doing a good job. Singapore is well prepared. We can have faith or at least try to stay positive. Don’t look back at this episode and regret a behaviour devoid of empathy for your fellow men…


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