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The Financial Express

The hide-and-seek with Covid-19

| Updated: July 06, 2020 22:04:28


The hide-and-seek with Covid-19

The children's game of hide-and-seek has lately taken the centre-stage in many segments of the adult world. Knowing full well the deadly nature of the ongoing corona pandemic, a few developed nations and their leaders have joined the fun - presumably in unremitting glee. If anyone imagines the virus as a living being, then he/she will encounter strange scenes: the pathogen is arrogantly defiant, yet sentimental, moving about everywhere sporting a stern face.

The virus is also inscrutable. It has never thought of itself being a subject of caricature. Nations do not appear to have come to grips with the pandemic. According to media reports, the global cases have recently shot past the mark of 11 million. The pandemic has killed more than half a million people worldwide in seven months. The disease keeps spreading like wildfire in many regions.

Now that the virtual 'dance of death' has begun emerging as the portent of a global cataclysm, the scenario is set to morph into a disaster long unknown to humanity. As part of weird developments, its shabby treatment by a few global bosses has initially made the pandemic feel being slighted. Now it feels bruised. It cannot endure the neglect any more.

Pithily speaking, Covid-19 is no plaything, in fact no pandemic outbreak is, nor is it an object pliable enough to be manipulated by states and societies. The scourge has already demonstrated its monstrous visage. It keeps making chilling displays of what kinds of havoc it can play with the gimmick-loving global players.

It's true the big honchos of the present global stage are putting in their best into the efforts of inventing an effective vaccine and medicines; at the same time some of them are also taking time out to indulge in unnecessary theatrics. While people still continue to encounter painful deaths, a few leaders are engaged in oscillations of varied types. Shifting focus from the premier task of saving vulnerable lives, a handful of them keep changing stances on wearing of masks, the most elementary protective device, while out. A few are hyperactive on the lifting of lockdowns.

Of late, the opening of the normally unwieldy bars or pubs has sparked a series of debates and legal battles in the West. England opened its restaurants and bars on July 01. Since June 01 some Paris cafes and restaurants have been seen catering their clients on their adjacent terraces. Meanwhile, the UK and France occupied the 3rd and 5th places respectively in the global tally of 12 countries witnessing higher number of deaths, new deaths and cases on July 04. The US was found at the top position.

Allowing people to gather again on the popular beaches (apparently by maintaining physical distance) has come up yet as another thorny issue. A number of beaches in Australia and Florida in the US have opened, closed and reopened in the face of flouting of physical distance obligations.

Donald Trump, the US President, currently one of the most globally influential heads of state, urged people to gather at a historic venue and join the nation's Independence Day celebrations on July 04. The turnout was quite impressive. A president can make appeal to his countrymen to participate in a great national event. But the sticky point is he appears to be completely oblivious to the imperative of the people's compliance with physical distancing. On the question of wearing masks, the president didn't clear his position. As he put it, wearing masks was an issue of individual choice. According to observers, such a non-committal stand was feared to strengthen the demand of the citizens' platforms that mask-wearing be made non-obligatory.

In the meantime, the pandemic virus keeps targeting the weak and the poor around the world. It's because despite its fictitious look of a dreadful monster, the Covid-19, and for that matter all pandemics, has yet to be known as being gifted with the faculty of judgement. So far, there has been little evidence showing its ability to separate the reckless people from those known as prudent. Like death itself the pandemics are also a great leveller.

In spite of this fact, a handful of nations and their unpredictable and allegedly idiosyncratic leaders continue to ruffle the feathers of the virus. These thoughtless and foolhardy postures only prompt the corona pandemic to become more violent.

At the end of the day, the global terror is found targeting the poorer and weaker nations to release its vengeance on. Many of these nations lack equipment, medicines or expertise. They look to the advanced nations, now corona-free, for help. Ironically, most of them are busy devising strategies to resort to the traditionally normal or the new normal.

Hide-and-seek, cat-and-mouse etc. are globally admired games among children. They are mostly played inside homes or on courtyards. The fun-filled games stand out for skill applied by kids while demonstrating their instant intelligence. Ironically, when these games are played on the world theatre, and centres on pandemics, they take a different character. As has been seen in the last few months, these adult versions of hide-and-seek are participated in mostly by the leaders well-known for their arrogant stances on many global issues. Nations' hanky-panky with Covid-19 may carry the potential for inviting the pandemic to get settled in their lands, to reappear in an appalling look. The derring-do on the part of the influential as well as some mid-level world leaders is interpreted by pandemic specialists as sheer self-defeating.

shihabskr@ymail.com

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