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A Pandemic Of This Level Takes Off Our Social Masks, But Are We Better Or Worse As Persons Now?

Posted: March 29, 2020

Now that you have some time at home, think – how has this pandemic and social isolation affected you as a person? Are you more humane, or less?

How does a pandemic of universal proportions, such as the one we are now in, affect us?

I don’t mean the economic or physical toll it takes on us. Does something like this make us more thoughtful or selfish? Considerate or more entitled? Spiritual or superstitious? Have you pondered?

As almost everywhere else, we are on an ‘almost lockdown’ social situation too.

This morning was my first venture outside to pick up essentials. As soon as I got out of the car I overheard a small altercation between the cleaning staff at the entrance, who was disinfecting trolleys, and a customer. The customer obviously was not satisfied with just the wiping down of the handle bars but wanted him to do the whole trolley. What struck me about the incident was that the man ‘demanded’ the service and then once he got it, marched away without even a smile.

Once inside, it was great to note that the majority paid heed to social distancing rules. But, what was missing too was the smile.

I saw one lady in particular, who perhaps panicked at the sight of nearly 90% of the shoppers wearing masks, and was attempting to hold her handkerchief on her mouth and nose as protection. When I saw her before the rack of sweeteners asking a clueless shelf stacker about icing sugar, I pointed it out to her. She practically recoiled, threw a scathing look at me and muttered, “I don’t want that one”. I checked if I had crossed the limits of ‘social distance’, I hadn’t.

Not all of us can be frontline heroes. But within our limited purviews, we still can do our bit.

Let us not be doomsday prophets

All of us love to be messengers of ‘tragedy’ (Aristotle was right).

When it comes to news, we focus on the gory, the base, and the attention to blood curdling specifics. Think about it, are we as quick to share news of human happiness as that of falls?

The same trait rears up when it comes to a contagion, a pandemic. We all become re-tellers of deep kept ‘conspiracy theories’ to predictions of unimaginable suffering. This trait, fuelled by social media, is education independent.

Have you spared a minute to think about the spirals of despondency and panic this mindless pounding of misinformation could send the ‘vulnerable’ into? If you don’t have the time, the patience to verify don’t be mindless harbingers of misinformation. Especially, when it comes to something as serious as a pandemic.

Let us take as per our need and not greed…

I think a whole lot has been written about hoarding of provisions and the like, so let us focus elsewhere.

As of date, the contagion has reached gargantuan proportions. Dr.Tedros Adhanom, the head of the World Health Organization, stated in a media briefing held earlier this week, that a lot many countries and healthcare centres are worried over shortage of Personal Protective Gear (PPE). In simple terms, the protective gear that frontline healthcare professionals need whilst working with severely ill patients.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) states, “Supplies of N95 respirators can become depleted during an influenza pandemic or worldwide outbreaks of other respiratory illnesses”.

These official quotes have to be read alongside reliable Dos & Don’ts in self-protection that has been repeatedly conveyed to us as public.

  • Follow rules of Social Distancing
  • Proper Respiratory Hygiene
  • Proper Hand Hygiene

Do we really need N95 masks if we aren’t infected?

Experts say that masks might give a casual wearer, like you and me, a false sense of security. Club this with a heightened propensity to touch your face to straighten the uncomfortable mask and perhaps repeatedly smothering it with infection. The same is to be said with gloves. Just watch someone go about with gloves, they touch everywhere and become vehicles of infection. Do we always remember to sanitize before we touch across surfaces?

Of course we need an appropriate mask if we are sick and do not want to infect others with our droplets, a primary care giver to a sick person or are someone under extreme risk for contracting the disease.

A mask also protects us from being sneezed upon by someone in a lift, a shopping aisle, you say. True, but that is where the rules of social distancing come. Once, that is done right, even a cloth mask or scarf will work if you remember the rules of Hand Hygiene and proper disinfection after use.

Remember, supplies are short and if the frontline workers fall, we are on our own into doomsday march.

Use your privilege to spread the right information

Our building caretaker rang our doorbell on the second day of lockdown. He came to request me to remove the two potted plants I’d kept outside our front door because the Municipality officials who came for checks said so.

He had worn a dirty scarf over his nose and it kept slipping off and on several times during the 2 minutes he stood there. He wore it because the officials who came casually warned him about precautions. He knew no hand hygiene, no sanitizer, and no 20 minute hand washing technique.

Your building caretaker in your apartment block, the lift operator, the car cleaner, your domestic help…there are many round you who may not always be able to understand vital information and even when they do, have the spare currency to buy that extra bottle of sanitizer so easy for you and me. Little things go a long way now.

Follow Dr. Tedros, not ‘spiritual gurus’ for information

Keep those astrologers, soothsayers and gurus on hold unless it is plain spirituality talk. Let them talk about what they specialize in, and let Dr.Tedros talk about his. Follow the right sources for information. And, stop at the appropriate amount of information.

Now, I ask again. Has the pandemic given you an extra ‘humane’ edge or has it taken away more? Remember, this too shall pass, my friend!

First published here.

Image source: pixabay

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