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Mon 18 May 2020 04:40 PM

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Covid-19: there's no cure for ignorance

Winning the fight against Covid-19 will require everyone to not be foolish and do their part

Covid-19: there's no cure for ignorance

Time and again government spokespeople implore people to follow the guidelines. 

I’m angry – and many of you are the reason why.

While the Covid-19 pandemic might be one of the great challenges of our times, at an individual level – that is, if you’re not a doctor or frontline worker – it doesn’t require much sacrifice or struggle to do one’s part.

Let’s take the generation of many of our grandparents as an example – the generation that lived through the Second World War. Many people had to fight the war itself, whether on the beaches of Normandy, the sweltering jungles of Burma and the Pacific or the rubble-strewn streets of Berlin or Stalingrad.

Even civilians far from the front had to face rationing, shortages and terror. Just look at those pictures of horrified Londoners – very young and very old alike – sheltering in tube stations as German bombers roared overhead during the Blitz. Of course, we mustn’t forget the countless wars, occupations and calamities that the Middle East has suffered throughout its history.

We, in contrast, have a relatively easy mission: stay at home as much as possible, stay away from other people, and wear a mask. Simple.

Many of you, however, are failing at this miserably. From failing to wear masks to throwing raucous parties in private hotel rooms, some people are blowing this for everyone. How do I know this? Because every Tom, Dick and Harry flouting the government’s guidelines is using Instagram and TikTok to broadcast every ill-advised move.

If you think I’m being harsh, please have a stroll around Dubai Marina. On my walks, and from my window, it’s clear that many people have yet to grasp the importance of face masks. Far too many joggers are puttering about without them on. Oddly, some parents are walking with masks on, while their children – without masks – play together in groups. I wonder whether these people understand the simple core concept of the masks.

It’s not as if they don’t know they are supposed to. Just yesterday, I watched as a hapless security guard politely ask a jogger to lift his mask above his chin, only to be first ignored and then – rudely – told to buzz off. For the last three weeks, I’ve watched that same scenario play out more times than I can understand.

Follow guidelines

The government, for its part, is more than fulfilling their end of the bargain. Every day, UAE health authorities inform us of how many tests they’ve conducted and where we are with regards to the pandemic.

More importantly, time and again government spokespeople implore people to follow the guidelines. Occasionally, they’ll even throw in a coronavirus horror story, as was the case when more than two dozen family members flouted the rules and contracted Covid-19 after throwing an ill-advised Ramadan gathering one night.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m personally getting quite tired of the restrictions that the virus has thrust upon us all. I’ve tapped out the options on Netflix. I’ve read every book I own and my eyes are sore from Zoom conferences. Like an angry house pet, I spend much of my afternoon staring daggers and growling at people outside for not wearing their masks. Like everyone else, I just want this to be over.

More importantly, the quicker we get back to normal, the quicker the economy rebounds. Too many people have had to take pay cuts, lost jobs and had their livelihoods damaged or destroyed as a result of the virus’ wider economic impact.

That, however, will only happen when cases go down and the infamous curve finally flattens. For that to happen, the rules will need to be followed – the masks must stay on and social distance must be maintained.

It’s really not that much to ask. Sadly, for many people there seems to be no cure for a lack of common sense.

Bernd Debusmann Jr. is Deputy Editor of Arabian Business.

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