Thoughts on coronavirus: concerns, reactions, myths and ubuntu

Home / SFTW Bulletin / Thoughts on coronavirus: concerns, reactions, myths and ubuntu

Since and reactions

This is not an easy post to write today. Since the initial coronavirus outbreak late last year, the epidemic escalated in a way that have reached many populations and countries, reaching so far at least 7714 people who lost their life. Things haven’t been easy for anyone. Some people can find themselves on quarantine at home, other people are far from home and either can’t go back anymore or they will struggle to get there with their relatives. As for this last case, some people might be stuck in a tricky situation, feeling some sort of long distance concern for their beloved and at the same time some sort of a “closing borders claustrophobia”

Worries and concerns are all over the world and people are dealing with the situation as they can. Some people have lost a relative, a friend or both. Many people haven’t. But in any case every person reacts in different ways and the situation is a challenge itself. Some of them are really really concerned, grasping huge moments of anxiety (check this article: Break the coronavirus anxiety cycle, by Judson A. Brewer) and not being able to think about anything else, trying to get as much food from supermarkets and supplies from pharmacies they can (that’s why these days everybody got to know what FOMO, fear of missing out, means), which lead us with millions of pictures of empty shelves in the supermarkets around the globe. In the other extreme, some haven’t worried enough and haven’t thought about the consequences that their lack of consciousness can have. To be honest, while I’m writing these lines I’m hearing the music of the party that my neighbours seem to be having. But in the middle point (thanks God there’s always a middle point in everything) we can also find people – I’d love to think that that’s the majority of people – who are taking care of the more disadvantaged ones and who are also helping as they can, whatever they can do and specially being aware of how taking care of yourself and following the measures helps  other people too. Think about homeless people, who are at a very high risk and for which quarantine is a privilege, or think about villages where there are no water and they can’t wash and clean their hands for 20 seconds. 

Myths about coronavirus

At the same time, new concerns about new types of coronavirus developing in China arise.  Who knows, and that’s what I’m not going to write today. Besides, there are some myths going on around, misinformation and myths about COVID-19, like the next ones:

  • Hand dryers are effective in killing COVID-19.No. They are not, wash your hands with soap and water (not 5 seconds, 20 and following the protocol) and/or clean them with an alcohol-based hand rub or spray.
  • Eating garlic help prevent infection with COVID-19.Garlic is good, it is healthy, it has antimicrobial properties, but there is NO evidence that eating garling has protected anyone in this case. 
  • Taking a hot bath prevents COVID-19. No, it doesn’t. 

Get informed and check all the info you have available. Fortunately, people on social media is helping at the same time to block these myths and health institutions and organizations are trying to block them down. For instance, in South Africa, where I am these days, the government being very aware of how crucial information is in these cases, dedicated a genius WhatsApp contact for anyone to ask questions and queries about coronavirus (if you’re here in South Africa as well by any change, the number is 060 012 3456; say just “Hi” to them and then you’ll receive a response with a menu and after you can reply to ask about the news, the myths, how to prevent, if you can travel or not, etc.

Screenshot of South Africa’s WhatsApp contact on COVID-19

It is just an example, but it’s the one that I have nearby. And there are many many videos with recommendations on how to follow this measures, like the one on BBC News on Why we touch our faces and how to stop it.

Don’t spread corona, spread your kindness: Ubuntu 

There is always something good in any bad situation. It is a matter of yin yang, I guess. And also a matter of Ubuntu, a very difficult concept to define (much more harder being a Western) but that stands for human kindness. It is a Nguni Bantu expression, coming from Zulu and Khosa languages, and it is usually translated as «I am because WE are». But, although the translation grasps the core meaning, it goes beyond than this, since the concept involves connection, tribal community and caring for each other and it is after all related to the belief that there is an universal bond or connection around all humanity.

If I’m bringing all this paragraph about Ubuntu it’s not because I’m falling for the concept and getting very aware of the harsh contrasts we can find in the human being. No, I bring it because kindness and consciousness about other people’s existence and health arises as well and it is something we need to put on the table. For instance, in Spain, which is the 4th. country with more reported cases of coronavirus today, people are more aware and greatful of how much honest and extra work doctors, nurses and all the healthcare system are doing. 

Of course, they’re also mad as citizens at how the Government didn’t take drastic measures from the beginning, when they saw their neighbours, italians, dealing with coronavirus and with a  lockdown situation on a Saturday night (even in Le Monde they were talking about that). What I mean to say is that, despite the fact that the Europe’s response to the pandemia hasn’t been drastic enough and, specially, that there hasn’t been a real coordination between countries with all its consequences (I truly recommend the article A Fumbled Global Response to the Virus in a Leadership Void on the New York Times, written by Mark Landler), despiste all of this, people in Italy are doing some massive applauses, as well as in Spain, and they are also singing from the balconies. 

People, real people, are offering what they can do, what they know to do. Some young people who are sure they don’t have the virus offer themselves to go to do the groceries for old neighbours or to take care of the neighbour’s children that still have to go to work and expose themselves. Some other people are walking the dogs for people who can’t, musicians sing or play their instruments from the balconies or even they play free concerts from their place, some writers are offering their digital books for free or for a very low price and poets are offering reading poetry through social media for those who are getting anxious at home. Some digital libraries open their free contents for everyone, teachers and lecturers are offering extra lessons online, or, for example, a very famous choir in South Africa, the Ndlovu Youth Choir, did a song to dispel some panic and specially some rumours about Covid-19, encouraging hand washing and avoiding touching your face.  People seem to be showing and continue to show the most humane and supportive part to help others and themselves. 

After: its impact

In most countries, the virus is following an increasing curve. There is a lot of things that still haven’t happened yet. Besides, there are many causes and consequences involved in this so called internacional crisis. Some people are starting to wander about the social and cultural impacts, which still have to be assessed as still we need to see how things will evolve, but some are seeing that things will change not for a couple weeks, but for years. Some people have been thinking about positive and negative aspects related to society and also all the consequences that applying restricting policies can have into people’s and societies life. Coronavirus isn’t only changing how we greet: some people are starting to kick feet instead, or trying the elbow greeting, and so on. It is changing many other things and it will change many others. But for now it’s just a matter of “let’s see and let’s hope”.  

Remei González Manzanero
Remei González Manzanero
(Barcelona, 1990). Philologist, freelance writer and text optimizer, teacher of Spanish, persecutor of a PhD in Language Teaching. Passionate about diversity, writing and good causes in the world. She contributes with what she knows how to do and what she keeps learning. As a volunteer, she has been in an educational project for child protection in Lalitpur, Nepal, translating documents and teaching Spanish as a foreign language. She is currently the blog manager of this blog, where she writes as much as she can, from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Leave a Comment