A few thoughts on the current coronavirus crisis

Here’s to another day of “social distancing” and “home office”.

This is my fourth week of “lockdown”. City streets are deserted, roads are empty.

Nature is taking a breather.

After the German government suggested (and eventually enforced) the lockdown, it took two days at the office before I, too realised, “Balls to this. This is a crisis. This is not normal, this is not going to work, and this is not worth risking the health of family and colleagues over.” So I packed my stuff and left. I haven’t been back at the office since, yet have clocked up more working hours than on a regular day.

My dining table has become my temporary office desk (I need the space for the monitors). This may become the “new normal”. While I’m no stranger to “remote working” and some of the luxuries it affords on account of my job functions I still think this ain’t right.

Colleagues who, because of different shifts and geographic locations, hardly see each other under normal circumstances are now more disjointed. Ironically, when you do speak to them using the conferencing facility of your choice, there’s an eerie sense of situational unity in our separation from one another. By now, everyone has heard of Zoom.

So have hackers and pranksters. “Zoombombing” has become a thing. Criminals and opportunists have taken to targeting the desperate, the scared and the feeble-minded.

You, the reader, know this by now. We’re all affected. This is all the TV newscasts report on these days. Nothing else seems to be happening in the world right now.

SAT-1 Nachrichten. Corona, corona, corona! (screengrab via YouTube)

There are no wars, no refugees, no plane crashes, no company mergers, no natural disasters, and no terrorist attacks to be heard of. Hongkongers and Venezuelans have nothing to riot over. There are no mass shootings because there are no masses.

Everyone’s at home. The world suddenly seems at peace.

As we exercise social distancing, many have (re)turned to social media as their lifeline to the outside world – those same platforms that were, until recently, derided as tracking mechanisms and privacy risks. In fact, some are now obligingly installing apps to monitor their health and movement, all nicely anonymised and in the name of medicinal science.

What cabin fever does well provide is fertile ground for the most batshit crazy conspiracy theories: Is this coronavirus an American bio-weapon, or a Chinese plot to disrupt the world’s economy? Is it a major social experiment, or a training exercise for the civilian population for a forthcoming alien invasion? Why are Italians and Spaniards more susceptible than, say, Greeks or Croats? Does eating bananas prevent infection? What’s the real threat? Meanwhile, in the UK, idiots are setting 5G cellular towers alight.

In March, a Facebook user named Ben Mackie falsely linked 5G to the coronavirus, saying in part that it’s not actually a virus. “They are trying to get u scared of a fake ass virus when it the 5G towers being built around the world,” he said. He also claimed that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates invented the technology and that it’s an effort to depopulate the world. And Mackie said that vaccines being developed for the coronavirus are actually chips that will be implanted in people. – CNET

Is people’s movement restricted so they can’t witness any clandestine military operations?

And thus, people are stuck in their homes. Many have nothing to do but watch Netflix, binge shop on Amazon, and spew nonsense on social media.

According to reports, there is an increase in domestic violence.

I pity those who cannot take their equipment home to continue working from there as if nothing’s changed. I pity those with poor (or no) internet connectivity or no spare room to do so. My heart goes out to those whose jobs simply don’t allow for working from anywhere but fixed facilities such as workshops, bakeries, factories, gastronomies, laboratories, clubs, warehouses, shops, construction sites and, of course, airlines, travel agencies and hospitals. Not everyone has running water to wash their hands.

This is a war, and doctors and medical staff are the soldiers at its front. They’re the ones exposing themselves to an invisible enemy due to shortages of protective equipment and face masks while aiding the sick. Due to a shortage of ventilators they also have to choose which patient lives and who dies.

Those happen to be the frail and the elderly — those same folks who are unable to look after the grand-kids while the parents work from home. In times like these people need all the personal support they can get — yet this is what could ultimately cause their very death. And should they fall sick, their children are unable to visit them during what may be their last hours. “Social distancing” is so cruel that it even prevents family members from attending the inevitable funeral. Old age homes are modern death camps.

Coffins are piling up in cooling trucks and ice rinks. Crematoriums are running overtime. Last rites have become a podcast. Religious services are streamed.

The economic impact on governments, companies as well as individuals is incalculable.

Many people are not earning an income or will be laid off completely. Some will not be able to pay their bills. Multiple companies and services will go bankrupt. Lufthansa, for instance, are reported to be losing a million euros — per hour!

Countless concerts, congresses, festivals and events such as the Olympic Games have been cancelled to curb the infection rate. Borders have been closed. Schools and universities have closed. Day care facilities are closed. Parents have to school and supervise their children, yet are unable to take them to a playground. Children have become a risk. Elsewhere, this is normal. Elsewhere, there are also far less infections (or are reported).

Personally, I’m having trouble believing the numbers. Only the fewest mention the percentage of the total population infected, dead, or those who survived. The infection rate, in turn, is only as accurate as the numbers of those that have been confirmed, and generally only those who show symptoms get tested. Most don’t. Sooner or later the entire world’s population will (need to) be infected in order to survive. Many, many more will die of SARS-CoV-2, and in two years’ time nobody will care.

Top infections as on 8. April 2020 (screengrab off worldometers.info)

Natural selection is running its course.

Each country handles the crisis in their own way due to differing environments, circumstances, demographics, financial means, and the value it places on its population and resources. “Flattening the curve” aims to confine infections and curb an influx of sick to hospitals. Let the buggers stay at home, and if they venture outside for reasons other than grocery shopping or commuting to work, fine ’em! Holiday travelling is verboten!

This will become increasingly difficult as weather in the northern hemisphere becomes more inviting to outside leisurely activities and the annual Easter egg hunt.

And seriously: what’s with the toilet paper?

People reveal their true nature during times of crisis.

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