The outbreak of the coronavirus in China was a movie to us. It was a distant story that had nothing to do with us. Even when the virus started spreading around the world, we downplayed the threat and gave ourselves a false sense of security.
In a dramatic turn of events, we have come to terms with the fact that the virus is finally here. Yes, that highly contagious virus is now amongst us.
We have learned from Italy, the new epicenter of the pandemic, that the disease spreads faster than we could ever imagine. Until early last month, the outbreak was a movie to the Italians too. A distant story that had nothing to do with them. Today, Italy has recorded more than 80,000 cases and 8,000 deaths. The southern European country boasting a relatively advanced healthcare system has been torn apart within a very short period of time.
Steps to diagnose and isolate cases while limiting movement of the rest of the population should be taken early, followed by strict enforcement. This is another lesson from Italy.
If need be, the authorities must act ruthlessly to ensure directives are followed. We don’t need to get to that point though. It is our civic duty to comply even if compliance comes at a hefty price. We make enormous economic and social sacrifices to contain the spread of the virus. By doing so, we save our own lives. In our list of priorities, life comes before anything else.
It is disturbing to see some people ignoring instructions. When I watched a clip of spring breakers being assaulted by the police at the beach in Miami, for the first time in my life I condoned what some refer to as police brutality.
The tragedy of Italy is a stern warning to the rest of the world. Although the country is finally underpinning some of the toughest measures in the world, the move came late. Protection of basic civil liberties and economic growth is to blame for this costly delay. The Italian government is now shifting gears. However, the new plan to isolate towns, regions and eventually shutting down the entire country is several steps behind the explosive trajectory of the lethal virus.
When we close our businesses and opt to stay home, the economy takes a hit but the alternative is unthinkable. We are no longer watching the situation escalate in a movie. We are now characters in that movie. Let’s play our part. Let’s follow the script.
The author is a travel enthusiast whose mission to discover Rwanda’s tourist attractions is suspended until further notice. He is currently staying home for obvious reasons.