• Joe

Coronavirus, hysteria and overhyped

The call by protestors for reopening non-essential businesses, including restaurants, pubs, department stores, and malls has been overwhelming the news stories the last few days, but journalists aren't interviewing the protestors asking them why they believe businesses ought to reopen? Well, why do they believe that businesses should reopen? There seems to be an easy explanation for such a view: reports on the severity of the novel coronavirus are overhyped and inciting fear and hysteria in the population.

While news media, politicians, and pundits have been inciting fear, I believe it's justified. The novel coronavirus is not just an ailment or illness that affects all walks of life but it's deadly if left untreated by those who have a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes or heart disease. We should be fearful of contracting the virus, and we should remain at home until there is higher probability of our safely navigating the world.

For this virus to be overhyped it would have to be untrue that the illness is a threat to public health. We know that that is false. The virus is a serious threat to public health. For some it causes death. For others it doesn't. There doesn't seem to be a discernible reason why it affects some badly and others not so badly. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, we ought to be cautious about how and when to interact with others. Such caution is not overhyped.

Second, at least in some cases, the illness leads to death. A majority of people with underlying health conditions have been the ones who have suffered the most. When one has an underlying health condition such as diabetes and obesity, we know that the virus may lead at least to hospitalisation, to the employment of a ventilator, if not to one's death. To protect ourselves we should remain at home and away from assembling in large crowds where we couldn't help but be close to others.

Finally, "hysteria" is an overused word with a nefarious historical connotations. The term means exaggerated or uncontrollable emotional response. Originally, the term was only used for a particular condition with women who displayed a variety of symptoms, but it is no longer understood to be a medical condition. In fact, it was completely discredited by the medical community because of its recognition that the symptoms associated with hysteria were determined to be manifest of completely separate conditions or, more likely, that physicians were using the term as a form of oppression against women. For this reason, we should not be inclined to use the term in association with a pandemic for fear of raising this clearly morally irresponsible use of the term.

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