Scaremongering affecting the COVID 19 response


This week, the first full week in which New Zealand has been on the COVID19 map, was an interesting opportunity to view the reactions from a range of people across society to the virus. From Members of Parliament urging panic buying to people committing acts of racism, and doctors turning up to work sick, one could see instances of people defying all common sense.

When one has abject fools like David Bennett, a National Party Member of Parliament telling New Zealand to panic buy, the entire message that needs to be presented is systematically undermined. I will not speculate as to what his intentions were when the comments were made, but one might assume little thought as to the consequences had been given. The ridicule that followed was altogether justified.

Likewise the rampant hysteria being formulated and the rampant anti-Chinese xenophobia following the spread of COVID19 is a filthy sideshow. The Chinese population is most probably just as scared as we are about what is happening, and when one hears “go home to China”, “go back to ______________”, even if they have been here all along it must be a hugely unsettling thing to hear.

But I think the Ministry of Health could have done much better. They could have added information in Arabic, a couple of the Island languages and in Hindi on their website. The Government should have been faster in tackling this and made its own decisions, without following other countries.

For its part the Opposition is completely and utterly clueless. It seems to have completely escaped their minds that COVID19 was always going to have an impact on New Zealand’s economy. Because China is our biggest export market, obviously high tonnage goes there every year. Because a significant contributor to COVID 19 is hand hygiene and its relatively easy means of spreading it, and the often very poor sanitary regulations and services in China, moving to check people coming from the Peoples Republic was an obvious early move.

Most big airlines with New Zealand routes have cut the number of flights on offer, which should not be surprising. New Zealand is simply going to have to admit that in an economic sense 2020 will not be a brilliant year and that for the most part, there is not much we can do about it.

What we can do though is absolutely cut out the scaremongering that is going on. The racism, the dis/misinformation, the panic buying of essentials like toilet paper and sanitiser and going to work despite being sick is doing nothing to help anyone including the people silly enough to be indulging these daft ideas. Nor is the failure of many people to wash their hands, despite this being one of the key ways of spreading COVID19.

New Zealand is comparatively well placed to shut down COVID19. We have a good health system that is – compared to the third world countries where it is present like Egypt, – well resourced, fairly well staffed and trained. Our authorities are competent and transparent. They can do their job if we do ours and shut down the aforementioned silliness, but it will become a lot harder if more M.P.’s indulge in scaremongering; media posting clips of people fighting over things that supermarkets would have enough of if we did not hoard; doctors turning up to work sick completely contrary to all of their training.

All I am saying is it is not nuclear physics, or anything monumental. Common sense can go a long way towards beating COVID19.

IF WE GIVE IT A CHANCE

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