To buck the trend of unwholesome content, we bring to you an ‘A to Z guide into Coronavirus’, debunking myths and fake news, quenching inquisitiveness, slipping in a frustrated laugh – all in lighter vain.
With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, a certain morbidity has set in our world – not only literally, with the number of cases crossing the three-million mark; but also metaphorically with our media consumption.
Coronavirus, while making way into people’s lungs, has also creeped into the news we read and watch; into the messages we forward on WhatsApp; into the videos we make on TikTok; into the discussions we have with their family on the dinner table; into Netflix recommendations; into birthday wishes; into pink slips even.
The content intake, if you analyse, revolves, more or less, around the same things – cases reported, un-solicited preventive measures/ home remedies, lockdown extension, and the paraphernalia.
To buck the trend of this unwholesome content, we bring to you an ‘A to Z guide into Coronavirus’, debunking myths and fake news, quenching inquisitiveness, slipping in a frustrated laugh – all in lighter vain.
So here goes:
A stands for Asymptomatic, which most people think means a person showing no symptoms. But, they forget an important caveat – one, which can make them pale with fear – that they still carry the virus on them.
Yes, an asymptomatic person carries the active virus in their body, but doesn’t develop any symptoms. Bet you are contact tracing in your head right now!
A special mention to Altrusim, because of the numerous acts of kindness towards the needy. Many have even braved these circumstances, to venture out and feed stray animals.
B stands for Back to Basics. No, I don’t mean that we are traversing the time trajectory backwards and becoming cavemen, although we might end up looking like them once the lockdown is lifted, courtesy salons shut. But, by back to basics, I mean turning to things that really really matter in the long run, and WiFi.
The lockdown, by compelling people to stay indoors, has added quality time with family for many; broken gender stereotypes with men lending a helping hand in domestic chores; many have left behind their sedentary lifestyle and started focusing on their health.
Doordarshan has resurrected and several have turned to watching good old classics like Ramayana, Malgudi Days and Shaktimaan on the pioneer of GECs (General Entertainment Channels) in India.
C has to go to coronavirus conspiracy theories, and believe you me, there are dime a dozen. The most popular one is that China “created” the virus as an “offensive biological warfare weapon”. But the tin foil cap bearers will not be convinced. So here is another one:
Coronavirus is believed to have originated from the wet market in Wuhan in the November of 2019. Coincidentially, China also started its 5G networks the same November. Do you see the connection? No?
Lo and behold! Coronavirus is the harmful effect of 5G wavelengths. American singer Keri Hilson had tweeted, “People have been trying to warn us about 5G for YEARS. Petitions, organisations, studies...what we’re going through is the affects (sic) of radiation. 5G launched in CHINA. November 1, 2019. People dropped dead.”
The tweet was fodder enough to keep the rumour mills running.
D stands for how Dystopian the streets look, when they are stripped of all human life – cafes, pubs, schools, playgrounds, Ramlila maidans, temples, mosques, offices and the baithaks outside them – all look like an architectural carcass without blood and flesh in them.
Also, the interest in dystopian literature and cinema has seen a rise amid the pandemic. I think it’s a great time to read or re-read George Orwell’s 1984.
E stands for Essential commodities, and how most people are still ignorant about them. While some, including the Residents Welfare Associations of many pockets in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai, have discounted newspapers as being an essential commodity saying it carries the pathogen on the surface, even as reporters continue to brave hospital wards of COVID-19 patients to bring news to them.
Others, have blurred all lines of what counts as essential and are wiping the supermarkets clean of whatever they can lay their hands on.
According to the Home Ministry, the following are essential services: ration shops; fruits and vegetables; dairy and milk booths; meat and fish; animal fodder; banks and ATMs; print and electronic media; petrol pumps; LPG, petroleum and gas retail; power generation; transmission and distribution units; capital and debt markets and of course; hospitals and clinics.
F undeniably goes to Fake News, which, if you ask me, is like an uninvited guest, who comes and finds a place in your house whether you like it or not. Fake news can be funny or frustrating, depending on your mood for the day.
The most bizarre fake news that I came across was vegetable sellers licking fruits/vegetables in order to deliberately spread coronavirus. Another ridiculous claim was: “Coronavirus doesn’t survive in hot temperature, as per research by NASA. If 130 candles are lit together, the temperature will increase by 9 degrees - as per IIT professor. So corona will die at 9.09 pm on Sunday. Masterstroke by Modi.”
As is rightly said, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop; fake news is clearly the devil here, and its distributor is none other than WhatsApp.
If God was on Twitter, her timeline would have been flooded with grievances right now, and she definitely would have been hiring more people to share the extra load. Yes, I believe God is a woman!
While it’s only human to turn to God in testing times, religion can prove to be a balm as well as risk during a pandemic. Which is why, public gathering at places of worship has been suspended, however you are free to pray at home in whichever way you like.
H stands for Hydroxychloroquine, commonly referred to as HCQ. Once US President Donald Trump erroneously claimed it to be a “game changer”, Americans assumed it to be the new oil, so much so that Trump even warned India of “retaliation” if they did not lift the ban on export of HCQ. A good friend, PM Modi eased the restrictions and allowed the export of the drug.
For context, HCQ is an anti-malarial drug, which is being used to subside symptoms of COVID-19 in select cases. It is also used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. After Trump touted it to be a “game changer”, people panic bought HCQ leading to a shortage for patients who actually need it. Meanwhile, India, which manufactures over 70 percent of the drug, banned its export. Later, the ban was eased.
I is a salute to Idiocy. If only idiots (covidiots, in this case) could add a feather in their hat, so we can identify them more easily. Apparently, there is no dearth of them. Here is an example:
So proud was he of his idiocy, that he live streamed it on Facebook. Finding no other better time to bring out the rebel in him, a Raipur youth ventured out in his BMW for a joyride, and flouted lockdown norms.
When the Raipur police arrested him, they LIVE streamed it too. Like crime, like punishment.
All Batman fans would have liked me to allot J to Joker; but I will allot it to a possible answer to Joker’s famous question – Why so serious?
J is for Job Losses, which is as ubiquitous as the virus itself. The International Monetary Fund has predicted an economic downturn as bad as the Great Depression of the 1930’s. As a result, job losses are inevitable.
The United States has pinned its unemployment figures at 26 million. The picture is India is also quite grim. According to the Centre for Monitoring Economy (CMIE), unemployment in India recorded an unprecedented spike to enter double digits for the first time. In the week ended March 29, unemployment was at a whopping 23.8 percent as compared to 8.4 percent a week ago.
What has happened between January and March is that the number of employed fell from 411 million to 396 million and the number of unemployed increased from 32 million to 38 million.
K is a shout out to testing Kits – both RTPCR as well as antibody kits. Thanks to them, doctors have been able to identify and quarantine people in time to stop a catastrophe from befalling a country as densely populated as ours.
Also, testing kits have added yet another contention to the bittersweet Indo-China ties. India has claimed that China sent faulty test kits, so much so that Tamil Nadu actually returned 24,000 kits imported from our neighbour
Special mention from K goes to Kim Jong Un, whose health concerns have given the world yet another cliff hanger.
L stands for Li Wenliang, the 34-year-old doctor who was the first to publically report about the coronavirus in Wuhan before it was officially recognised.
Li had warned friends of the strange and deadly virus rampaging through his hospital on WeChat, only to be threatened by government authorities.
A letter to Li from the Wuhan police bureau on January 3 said he had 'severely disrupted social order' with his messages. He was asked to sign the letter as a promise to stop such illegal behaviour immediately and told that if he refused to comply he would face criminal charges.
A month later, he contracted the virus and succumbed to the infection. He became a hero in China when his warnings proved true, then a martyr when he died.
M stands for Mutants. As though one wasn’t enough, the virus has reportedly mutated into over 10 types. Of these, the A2a mutant is apparently extremely effective at transmission, as well as attacking human lung cells. To make matters worse, this mutant seems to be emerging as the dominant type of virus across geographical regions.
N stands for Namaste, or the conventional Indian way of greeting someone while exercising social distancing. The post-lockdown era will maybe see a world where handshakes, hugs and cheek kisses will become obsolete. But, our good old Namaste would have survived these sands of time.
O goes to the Original Sin. Where did the virus come from, and did it enter humans through consumption of bats?
Scientists say that it is highly likely that the virus came from bats but first passed through an intermediary animal in the same way that another coronavirus – the 2002 SARS virus – moved from horseshoe bats to cat-like civets before infecting humans.
P stands for Paranoia or fear psychosis, which has set in many people, who worry about the consequences of contracting the infection, even before they have contracted the infection. Their worries include a wide range of issues, from medical expenditure to ostracisation, and even being scared of isolation.
You must have thought we’ll dedicate Q to Qurantine, but we have something more interesting in store for you.
Q is for Quackery, which has been inherited from pre-historic times to contemporary ones, courtesy unaffordable/inaccessible health care for various strata of the Indian society.
Here are some outlandish cures, a few even peddled by politicians assuming the role of quacks – spraying cow urine, drinking cow urine, avoiding chicken or non-vegetarian food, avoiding Chinese food, having warm water, gargling with salt and turmeric – all debunked by the WHO.
This reminds me of an old Hindi proverb: Neem Hakim Khatra-e-Jaan, which roughly translates to ‘incomplete knowledge is dangerous’.
R stands for Road Trips. No, not fun vacations with friends. But, travel by road for those daily-wage migrant workers, who can only afford to take an arduous walk home, maybe because staying where they are without any money or food is worse than braving the scorching heat to reach home.
35-year-old Insaf Ali, deserves a special mention for walking 1,500 kilometres from Mumbai to Mathkanwa village in Uttar Pradesh, taking 14 days, only to take his last breath in a quarantine centre in his native place.
S is for Superheroes – doctors, nurses, hospital staff, frontline workers delivering essential goods, as well as the police, which is ensuring lockdown measures are being heeded. These superheroes put their lives in danger every day, over-work, and sacrifice their family time only for the country’s recovery from the pandemic. A sincere salute to all of them; they deserve more than gratitude and appreciation.
After many reports of attacks against these professionals emerged, the government took strict action to curtail such incidents.
Special mention to Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s coronavirus crush. Dr. Anthony Fauci is a man with the most powerful weapon, knowledge; hence is often seen correcting Trump on the coronavirus crisis. Fauci, when speaks, the entire world listens. The 79-year-old has pulled through the times of HIV, SARS, MERS, Ebola and even bioterrorism (anthrax attacks), separating fact from fiction while heading the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. His words have made racing hearts stop, so much so that a petition was filed to make him the sexiest man alive.
T is for Time, which has warped, quite like in Christopher Nolan’s films. Survivors of the pandemic will vouch for Einstein’s theory, that time is relative, like the supreme truth. Einstein will definitely be chuckling in his grave at this point.
U stands for Ultraviolet light, booths of which are likely to greet you at office gates once you go back to work post-lockdown. Fumigation chambers using hydrogen peroxide to disinfect a person’s body and clothes, as well as ultraviolet light to disinfect surfaces have been prototyped by Kerala, as well as approved for commercial production by the Ministry of Science and Technology. This world could be a germophobe’s utopia.
V goes to Ventilators, which are being used to save lives in cases which are showing severe symptoms and respiratory distress. Ventilators were in short supply in India in the early days of the outbreak, but efforts are being made by the government to ramp up domestic production.
V also stands for Vaccines, which scientists are rushing to create so as to save the uninfected population from the deadly virus.
W goes to Work From Home, which is an unchartered territory for most Indians, whose biological clock is set for the 9-to-5 rat race. In order to strictly exercise social distancing, IT and digital companies have mandated WFH, which is likely to get extended till July 31, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
WFH can be a boon as well as a bane, depending from person to person, as well as profession to profession. What could possibly be wrong about working in your pyjamas, cutting out traffic blues on Monday, laying back on your couch with your laptop, with a bottle of chilled beer and a bowl of tortilla chips by your side? Precisely that.
X undeniably goes to the Xenophobia, which somehow manages to creep in every time during times of duress. In India, Muslims from various south-east Asian countries gathered for an annual religious congregation called the Tablighi Jamaat. Unfortunately, the religious gatherings, taking place in various states across the country, happened couple of days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the clarion call for a nation-wide lockdown.
The ill-timed event led to a domino effect, with hundreds contracting COVID-19, and inadvertently passing it on to many others. Many states recorded a sudden spike in numbers after the incident came to notice.
The incident led to many blaming the minority community for knowingly spreading the virus. Consequently, islamophobic nomenclature, such as ‘CoronaJihad’ and ‘TablighiVirus’, was born. Really cannot tell who the malice lies with.
Y goes to Yoga, which needs to be valued and turned to in stressful times like these. Yoga increases metabolism and flexibility, improves respiration, helps in weight reduction; while meditation can ease stress and bring semblance and sanity.
Besides, exercise in any form is the only thing right now that will create dopamine in the body, the chemical that produces happiness and excitement.
Z stands for Zoonotic, which is a characteristic of the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2. Zoonotic is a disease that can spread from animals to humans. This is not an unusual trait. Many diseases are passed from animals to humans, including rabies, malaria, swine flu, ebola, etc.
While it’s not conclusive fro which animal COVID-19 jumped into humans, the event has been linked to wet market in Wuhan.