Comment Writer Chelsie Henshaw acknowledges the severity of the Coronavirus pandemic but argues that we should not ignore other key issues currently impacting the world
If I were to have written this article a month ago, I would have taken the stance that coronavirus is simply just scaremongering. It’s just been built up by the media, right? We have other concerns, such as the outbreak of mumps across UK universities. However, a lot can change in a month. Currently, the coronavirus has become a pandemic, with more and more cases being discovered daily.
Whilst many have recovered from the coronavirus and most are unlikely to get it, COVID-19 does not bode well for the immunocompromised or the elderly. For example, although those who are young should easily recover from the coronavirus, those with diabetes are at a much higher risk. Think about those who must have the yearly influenza vaccination, because the yearly flu would impact them so badly, how do you think their bodies would respond to COVID-19. On the evening of Thursday 12th March, Boris Johnson addressed the UK about the coronavirus. Despite the fact that many countries were on lockdown, for example China and Italy, and Ireland had closed all schools down, Johnson seemed to not be taking COVID-19 seriously enough. In the press conference, Johnson stated that ‘many more families are going to lose loved ones’. This seemed to be a very insensitive statement to be giving amidst the global anxiety surrounding the virus. When talking about deaths in people’s families, you can’t be simply matter of fact, these are people’s lives and loved ones at risk.
Recently in the media it was announced that the Paris half marathon would no longer be going ahead due to the COVID-19 and the London Marathon has been postponed. Whilst some may argue that these measures are not needed, the majority of the general public would most likely agree that mass events like these should be cancelled. If events like this continue to go ahead, how are we going to contain the virus? It only takes one person to be infected at a major event like a world-renowned Marathon to possibly infect others taking part/supporting. Although cancelling major events like the marathons is disappointing, it’s a measure that is required to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Johnson’s statement gained a lot of negative attention, although it’s to be expected considering the current level of panic the world is in over this virus.
However, one thing that isn’t helpful to this issue is the increased panic buying of items such as toilet roll and soap. When panic buying these household items, think about those who have less access to stores, such as the elderly and disabled, who need these items the most. It seems selfish to buy large quantities of these items as it results in many people not being able to gain access to them. Also, in order to effectively contain the virus, everyone needs to be washing their hands and keeping up good levels of hygiene, yet how are they meant to do this if they can’t access the products needed for killing bacteria, such as hand sanitiser. Essentially, those who are panic buying are just allowing the virus to spread more easily and are leaving our most vulnerable with everyday essentials.
However, amidst the virus it’s still important to remember issues such as austerity and climate change. Whilst the virus is certainly a serious issue which requires a large amount of attention, so are these growing problems. According to The Guardian, between 2012 and 2019 more than 130,000 deaths could have been prevented if there weren’t austerity cuts. In terms of climate change, think about the disastrous bushfires in Australia. Why are we only just starting to pay attention to climate change?
The coronavirus, whilst it shouldn’t be causing large amounts of stress and anxiety, is something that we should be concerned about. People need to become more responsible, self-isolating if showing symptoms, and generally just practicing good hygiene. However, during this period of panic, don’t forget about the other issues currently at hand, such as the large outbreak of mumps, despite vaccinations.
Check out some other Comment articles which discuss some of the themes featured in this article:
For more on the Australian bushfires: The Bias of Philanthropy
For an analysis of the reasons for panic buying: Panic Buying: The Psychology
For a discussion about austerity: Save Our Services