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Dhaka     Monday   18 October 2021

Let’s all get serious about Coronavirus Covid-19

Sir Frank Peters || risingbd.com

Published: 16:12, 25 March 2021   Update: 16:13, 25 March 2021
Let’s all get serious about Coronavirus Covid-19

We all know the story of the ship built by Noah, which became known as Noah's ark, to save his family and two of every species of animals from the flood.

We also know that history, given time, repeats itself. Right now we are all in the same proverbial boat, but it’s the animals that are looking in!

At no other time in history has mankind been faced with death on such a grand scale, accelerated through a mix of ignorance, stupidity, and a deceptive sense of immortality.

Our enemy, Coronavirus Covid-19, has now become a household name worldwide.

While there isn’t much we can do about people who think they are immortal, there’s a lot that can be done for the ignorant and stupid.

Education is the antidote to ignorance. It is prescribed to be consumed in generous doses daily from reliable, trustworthy sources, that should, but doesn’t always, mean the government and the media.

The foremost concern – the uphill climb – we now face is stupidity. People who act stupidly and can easily spread the virus through their inconsiderate, stupid actions. It’s said, the worst sight in the world is to witness stupidity in action and there's a lot of it about.

We can make excuses for those who are uneducated and illiterate and society can accept blame for their shortcomings, but stupidity is self-made and they only have themselves to blame.

However, there is no doubt whatsoever that we will get through this pandemic. Like all previous pandemics, this, too, will pass.

This, too, will pass

When we eventually emerge from the darkened tunnel of fake news, misinformation, poor advice and the heavenly daylight of truth and reality stings our smarting, blinking eyes; it would be comforting to know we did all in our power to help keep down the death toll to the absolute minimum, even if that only means protecting our loved ones and ourselves from potential illness and death, and nobody else.

In years to come when our children ask us, “What did you do in the Coronavirus War, daddy?  We need to make them feel proud.

Coronavirus Covid-19 does not permit us to trust anybody, not even our dearly beloved relatives and friends. They may be telling us the truth when they say they don’t have the virus, but are they carriers and don’t know it?

In early black and white movies, the good cowboys wore white hats; the bad ones wore black hats. They were distinguishable and it was easy to tell when danger was lurking menacingly nearby. This Coronavirus enemy, however, is invisible to the naked eye and gives no visible warnings whatsoever.

Our protection, we’re told, begins by following some simple rules that have been scientifically proven.

The scientists tell us: (1) Wash your hands for at least 20-seconds with soap and, preferably, hot water or a sanitiser gel, (2) Wear a face covering, and; (3) Keep at least six-feet distance.

Nothing difficult about that, especially when the grand prize for all winners is life itself.

Sure some people may complain of being bored, but if people cannot tolerate the solitude of their own company, perhaps this is their wake-up call to learn how they may have bored other people, for years.

Women’s Day celebration

The International Women’s Day celebration, on March 8, raises a point of contention with me. The occasion was to celebrate and acknowledge the economic, political, social and cultural achievements of women from all walks of life in Bangladesh. Bravo!

Of the 25 distinguished, presumably educated, guests on stage that evening, however, only FOUR wore masks and I question not only the example being set, but allowed to be set.

Even the Chief Guest of Honour Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, MP, and Minister of Foreign Affairs didn’t wear a mask.

When the photo hit the national dailies and news portals, one can’t help, but wonder what message was perceived by the nation. 

Do the health rules apply only to certain sections of society or is it more a case of “do as I say, but don’t do as I do”?

We are continuously being advised to follow the health guidelines said to protect all, yet in the back row of the International Women’s Day photograph we see 19-people standing, touching, shoulder-to-shoulder and within inches of those seated in front, including the honourable Minister. Why bother placing the chairs so measurably apart, as if it mattered, if the attack can come so easily from the rear?

Has the Emperor of the New World Order, Coronavirus Covid-19, given special dispensation to those who flounce health rules and regulations for special celebrations, including those of Bangabandhu?

If the health dictates of any government are valid and are to be taken seriously and acted upon earnestly by the people, proper examples need to be made by all. In times of a pandemic when people are utterly confused, saying one thing and doing another is just not acceptable.

We are under attack by Coronavirus Covid-19 or we’re not. If we are, we need to act upon the preventive measures advice given by the health experts unconditionally. (Covid-19 vaccines is an entirely different issue).

Whether we are Muslim, Christian, Hindu or whatever, Coronavirus doesn’t care who is its prey.

In answer to the 2000-year-old question posed in the Biblical Cain and Abel story (Genesis 4:1-13), ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’

The unequivocal answer is YES!  Its times like these, we all need to look after and protect each other, even if only from each other.

For the first time in history mankind has become more interdependent upon the actions of each other to survive.

When a government – any government – issues health warnings, they must be clear, simple, concise and without ambiguity for all to understand and comply.

This is a time when we all need to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and take precautions, however unpopular they make us. Even good, decent, pious Allah-loving Allah-fearing people involuntarily can be our worst enemies as carriers…but only if we permit.

Our lives are in our hands.

(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, a humanitarian, a royal goodwill ambassador and a long-time friend of Bangladesh.)

Frank Peters/Nasim