Don’t Panic; unlike us, Corona is non discriminatory!

T S Haokip

While the rest of the whole world battled Covid-19 disease for a while now, it wasn’t until the 3rd of March that India rose from its deep slumber; of being comforted by an assurance stemming from unknown reasons that ‘ corona virus is a thousand miles away.’ Now, it is not known how scientific is our reliance on ‘cow-urine’ and ‘cow-dung’ to save us from Corona, but at a time when the world is seriously talking about finding measures for combating the highly contagious disease- Covid 19, we still have many people who finds it hilarious enough to not only make fun of the disease but finds it opportune enough to rebuke and mock people.

There was a time we, the Northeasterners were called Momo, Chowmein, Chinky etc. I have written an article about it – both the fun side and the sad reality of discrimination on the NE people. The unfortunate outbreak of Novel corona virus from Wuhan, China has witnessed huge turn of events with most countries now effected by the virus. National emergencies are declared and the WHO has now termed Covid-19 disease as pandemic. But among the many unfortunate victims are the North Eastern people, who are fortunately not infected by the virus as of now but by a more venomous virus; racism.

The Racism angle (Unlike us, the virus is not)

It is indeed racist to call Chinese people by ‘Corono’. But what is graver and more loathable is to discriminate the North-East people by calling them CORONA. It is discrimination on two counts- firstly calling people by disease is discrimination of the highest level. This too, when there are no confirmed cases of the disease from North East India. Secondly, equating and mocking the citizens of this country to those people where the Virus originated and calling them Corona with the sole intention of rebuking them and their physical appearance is not only cowardice, condemnable but inhumane. We will soon be finding out that unlike us, the disease is non-discriminatory and that the disease is in no way a matter joke but one which will require collective fight for people of the world including Chinese and Indians. We need to fight the disease and not the people. 

‘Do not panic’ Message (No virus, no panic)

At the time of writing this, more than 80 people have been detected to have caught the highly contagious disease. Several states have issued advisory on the matter; restricting public gathering and declaring the closure of schools, shopping malls, Cinema Halls etc. In the midst of all these developments, the understandably anxious public is advised by the concerned authority, ‘not to panic.’ It is understandable that advisory messages to calm the public are required considering the fact that panic and anxiety could effect the body’s immune system. Nevertheless, one can’t help but assess the Government’s level of preparedness. Do we have the required infrastructure? How many hospitals are well equipped and capable to treat the affected? These questions sadly don’t have encouraging answers. Some people, mostly believers of God, will have little problem in controlling their fear as one message goes, ‘ Even as we take all precautionary measures, the pandemic Covid-19 is not a reason to panic and never one to laugh about it. But it surely gives you and me an opportunity, may be the last, to remember Him and turn to His ways.’ Still, the highly important message of ‘not to be panic’ will evidently require some ‘more-than-words’ efforts by the concerned authority. 

Looking ahead (Ensuring the pandemic disease does not go endemic)

The precious time of fifty days from its initial outbreak in neighboring China should have placed us in a more advantageous position than we presently find ourselves in; that opportunity is apparently lost. The next couple of weeks will be crucial for India as it now fights its own battle of the deadly virus. I am no expert to advise the Government or for that matter the public on how to control the disease. But as an informed citizen of the country, it is hard to turn a blind eye on our inordinate delay in conducting strict screening process at International borders, ports and Airports. How was it possible for 16 foreigners with the highly contagious disease allowed not just to enter the country but permitted to move around freely is a million dollar question. We are at least a month late in directing our time and resources in battling the disease but for a nation of billion people, every experience and learning is worth the money. China has done a tremendous job to contain the disease by affecting a complete lock down of Wuhan constituency. Hospitals specifically meant for patients suffering from the disease were installed in record time, lasting few days only. The dedication of South Korean concerned authorities in tackling the disease is worth emulating.

We will need a war footing approach to restrict the spread of the disease. The public too had an important role in this fight. Apart from maintaining strict personal hygiene, it is our duty to oblige advisories given by concerned authorities’. As for the Government, assuring the public of visible and quantifiable actions while maintaining high level of preparedness even for large scale out-break will go a long way in containing not just the disease but the state of panic, people are currently engulfed with. Sans the same, it will be wrong to blame the public for being fear-mongering and for letting sanitizers and masks out of stock.

(The writer is author of the book, HILLY DREAMS)