The coronavirus is now the most spelled word in the world. It has frightened many of us, bur it doesn’t affect every single person out that. While for some it makes an appearance similar to that of the common flu, for others, it can be deadly, especially for the elderly, obese, those who have underlying conditions, and those who have low immunity or auto-immune disorders. As research has shown so far, Covid-19 has a low mortality rate.
According to a report published by ‘Our World in Data,’ the case fatality rate (CFR) in Germany is 0.2 percent whereas in Italy, it is 7.7 percent. The interesting fact is that both countries have a similar number of coronavirus cases, which means that the fatality rate varies from country to country.
Nepal now has nearly 42 thousand coronavirus cases, but the CFR is about 0.7 percent, which seems low compared to its neighboring countries- India and China. India has a fatality rate of 1.8 percent, with the total number of coronavirus related deaths having crossed 66 thousand. Recently, however, many people have begun declaring the virus as being a “scam” and spreading false rumors on social media.
Is the coronavirus a scam?
Many people while scrolling social media get invitations from corona ‘awareness’ groups, which taut all things related to the coronavirus and how it is a scam. In one such group, for example, a post was made trying to discredit the use of masks to combat the virus. “N-95 mask can only filter up to 300 nm particles, coronaviruses are 80-120 nm, so how can the non-fabric and cloth masks filter this? It is all lies by WHO,” read the post.
Similarly, many people have doubts about the tests, circulating rumors that RT-PCR test kits are not reliable. A few days ago, there was news published about a person who needed to have an emergency operation. It cited that the Hetauda lab showed this person’s test result as positive, but a swab collected from Grande Hospital showed the test as negative. The Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal has clarified that slight mechanical and human errors can show errors in results, which is why collected swab samples are tested twice.
People who are dedicated to proving the coronavirus as being a lie are also spreading rumors that many deaths are falsely counted as coronavirus related deaths. According to the WHO guidelines, any person that is infected with coronavirus and dies will be counted under the Covid-19 death tally. It does not matter whether the infected person was co-morbid, in which case too, the death shall be recorded as a Covid-19 death.
Nowadays, the death toll of Covid-19 is compared to the numbers of flu, TB, and HIV-AIDS. People relate the lockdown with TB, saying that it is deadlier and more infectious, and so there should have been a lockdown for that as well. But people fail to realize is that TB has a vaccine, medicine to cure it. Similarly, HIV-AIDS can be treated with anti-retrieval therapy, and for the flu, there are seasonal flu-shots. None of the following exists yet for the coronavirus.
The numbers of deaths shouldn’t be termed as ‘a few’
‘Our World in Data’ published a report stating that more than 150,000 people die daily. Likewise, 56 million people die yearly. More than 49 thousand daily, and 17.90 million yearly die due to cardiovascular disease. Similarly, more than 26 thousand daily, and 9.70 million yearly die due to various forms of cancer. This data is now compared with the Covid-19, which sees ‘only’ 10 thousand deaths per day. People erroneously term it as a simple ‘flu.’ But again, while many different medications exist to treat cardiovascular diseases and cancer, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, nothing similar exists for the coronavirus- just very little knowledge.
As a popular Indian journalist and Ramon Magsaysay prize winner Ravish Kumar said in his program in NDTV India “Deaths are deaths, we cannot term ‘only’ for deaths—nor can we convert it into percentage and show it into data to soothe ourselves, deaths cannot be few-many, low-high. For the government, a person who is dead is only a data—a number. But for the family, the person is a father, mother, sister, brother. Therefore, deaths are deaths.”
People shouldn’t be afraid of this virus, but instead, should learn to live with it. The lockdown imposed for containing coronavirus has created a huge impact on lower and middle-class people, and if almost seems unnecessary. However, these restrictions have developed awareness among peopl on just how dangerous the virus can be, and how to stay safe from it. The world needs to move into a new normal.
While in the beginning, the conception of Covid-19 was very new to us all, now, we have to learn to live with it. Media agencies that create fear in people by showing sensitive images and spreading false news should stop. People tend to overlook a situation and easily brush it off when they are not the one being affected by it. For example, an article published by the BBC wrote about a man who had perceived the coronavirus to be a hoax until he lost his own wife. Treating such a deadly disease as a hoax is a hoax itself, which is why people need to listen better and follow the guidelines from the government and the WHO.
Sandip Gyawali is a researche, and a freelance writer who is currently pursuing a Masters in English Literature from Tribhuvan University.