The world is not only at a war against a virus. More dangerous than the virus itself is the accelerating panic. As the novel coronavirus spreads, the media produces waves of news that feeds the global paranoia. Where are we headed? Is the world dealing with the current health problem the right way, or are there other ways to be cautious but calm at the same time?
These are the questions we should ask alongside our quest to fight the virus. Of course, the pandemic is a threat but with the fake news circulating on social media, things might get out of control.
Turkey announced its first verified coronavirus case, and more are likely to follow. But it's crucial we remain calm. Of course, this coronavirus can be deadly, but the mortality rate is not very high. It is only deadly for around 2-3% who become infected, which is not more than the influenza virus.
The panic is based on the newness of the virus and global reactions. Researchers have yet to come up with a vaccine for the virus, and all the infected people can do is strengthen their immune systems.
Politicians in Italy and Iran have been slow in reacting and then they overreacted to balance the delay.
I think Turkey has been a very good example. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, who is a medical doctor himself, has been very careful and maintained a calm approach. So far we have been doing well in containment but unfortunately, the panic level here is not proportionate to the size of the spread.
In Italy, panic might be understandable, although it does not help cure the outbreak. However, here there is no rational ground for emptying the shelves at supermarkets or stockpiling masks and antibacterial gels.
This panic-stricken atmosphere has already blocked the economic system globally. The stock market is upside down. The tourism sector is going bankrupt, and even free trade is at stake.
The U.S. has stopped all arrivals from Europe. Italy is shutting down the whole country.
Looking at this trend, I really cannot help thinking there might have been a different way to deal with the virus. After the virus wave slows, we will face a much more serious crisis in economics all around. Reservations have been canceled. Airlines have lost millions of dollars. Trade has sharply declined, and the interconnection has stopped.
What a horrifying and sad picture in 2020. Ten years ago, we were talking about a globalizing world, but today we live in a world of isolation. It did not start with this virus. It started much earlier with the rise of the far-right in Europe, the election of U.S. President Donald Trump and the deterioration of liberal values around the world. Everyone has become more reclusive. Security has overshadowed freedom.
Now, we are at the point where health ranks above all else. This is a new reality, and it will have deep consequences. I hope the world is strong enough to face the aftermath of the new coronavirus.
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