Stick together in face of virus
Authorities around the world are scrambling to cope with a new virus generally referred to as coronavirus, or Covid-19, which has had a worldwide impact to devastating effect on economic and social life.
With no known cure, along with the knowledge that it spreads rapidly through person-to-person contact, there is fear of a global pandemic unless drastic action is taken to slow and contain this disease, which has claimed close to 4,000 lives.
This virus, originating in China and believed to have been caused by the consumption of contaminated meat, has captured the attention of medical experts. Despite the race to produce a vaccine to combat the menace, scientists admit it could be more than a year before progress is made in having a vaccine for global distribution.
Meanwhile, with a view to preventing the virus from infecting more people, activities such as concerts, sporting events and other crowd-gathering functions have been sharply curtailed or cancelled.
Bermuda has joined other countries in bracing for the effects of this new health threat, which needs only an inch to take a yard out the social and economic life of any community, large or small.
The global travel business, including airlines and cruise ships, has been rocked by cancellations, as people stay at home to avoid, if possible, being exposed to a disease that has disrupted the lives of so many.
The usual flu virus, a regular with most countries during the winter months, may have taken a back seat in publicity, but it continues especially to take a toll on those with underlying health challenges. With vaccines already in use, there is a degree of protection, provided that people take advantage of its use.
As for the coronavirus, it is really a matter of reducing the spread by washing your hands after touching items that other people may have touched, since the virus, while not airborne, travels mostly through physical contact.
Some precautionary methods may seem drastic to tackle the problem, but there are times when such measures are required to bring about a change in what appears to be an escalating health issue that could get far worse before the tide changes.
Attitude is important because on reflecting on how communities react when confronted with something as big as a massive hurricane, politics, social status, and issues to do with race and ethnicity are shoved aside as people realise the importance of pulling together against a powerful force of nature that has not been selective in how it strikes.
Having witnessed many moments when Bermuda brushed aside all differences when confronting a situation that placed everyone in potential danger, it was reassuring to see the togetherness by the island communities in the willingness to go the extra mile in helping anyone in distress as a result of storm damage or injury.
That is the spirit so badly needed these days, with political and social divisiveness still a significant factor with so many countries. In fact, many lives are lost daily in regions of military conflict — bitterness and hatred should be feared more than any virus.
The answer could be in the attitudes of various powerful leaders, and people still obsessed with not accepting others who are not like them.
As troubling as the coronavirus has been, it has caused many to reflect on how fragmented the world response has been for failing to accept a situation that demands full co-operation from all — in the same way that any community would hold hands in the face a powerful hurricane bearing down with deadly consequences.
It is unfortunate that it usually takes a threat of serious disruption to normal life to bring people together in trying to cope with the unknown, whether it is political, social or an act of nature.
That attitude we display here in Bermuda so generously during those moments when a powerful storm is approaching is needed, too, for tackling problems such as crime, health issues, the antisocial behaviour of some young people, and even attitudes on our roads.
This is a crucial time to reflect on that co-operative attitude for the good of all. Divisiveness can often be worse than any virus. Together, with a positive attitude, we can all help to make Bermuda a better place for future generations.
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Ada Nyabongo (1926-2020)
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