Is Media Exaggerating The Coronavirus Threat?
The contagion of coronavirus has given this world a new face, proving to be more impactful than any other happenings of the recent history. COVID-19 has found a dichotomy in its social functioning. Even a single person can be responsible for the spread of the virus. Imagine one person having the power to shut down economies and most parts of the world. The virus has also questioned the integrated human lives and the essence of it.
It has jeopardised the notion of globalisation and glocalisation simultaneously. It has exposed the scientific discoveries, ideologies, moralities and normative structure of the societies at large. Handshake was perceived as an important value, but in these times that simple act is life threatening. Social gatherings were considered an important part of the human existence but the pandemic has forced us all indoors, away in quarantine.
Science, the mirage of the modern world is unable to give an abrupt response to the COVID-19. The medical scientists’ focus is mainly on prevention but there is still very limited information available on the cure of the infected. Researchers, medical professionals and practitioners are scared of the magnanimity of the disease. Their modern knowledge seems to be obsolete when it comes to curing the COVID-19 and we are all dependent on prevention only.
To control the greed to accumulate wealth and promote cure economy (in terms of earning money out of the diseases in the form of manufacturing more hand sansitizer/face mask and in future vaccine or medicine) is another big challenge.
Religious scholars are unable to interpret this emerging disease. Places of worship are locked down across the world. Centers for spiritual healings have gone silent and they are unable to cope with it. The whole pandemic has us confused and fearful about how long this might last.
Even though COVID-19 is a serious risk to public health but the mortality rate is still 2-3%, which is a threat to the lives of the infected people, but this threat is with complete mediatization. One may find a list of diseases which have higher risks. For example, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive lung disease and diarrhea are the leading cause of deaths in the world as per World Health Organisation in 2020 estimates.
Road accidents are the second biggest reason and millions die of them. WHO in 2018 reported 1.35 million deaths due to road accidents in the world, which, on average is about 4000 deaths per day, 166 per hour and 3 persons per minute.
Hunger and natural calamities could be another big challenge that may risk the life of millions of people around the globe. For example, carbon emissions affect the quality of life.
However, one may find very less discourse on the issue of environment in the global media. Social, electronic and print media is based on a huge level of the sensation and hype for attention. Since coronavirus is a new reality, therefore, the reporting is intense. The local media following the footprints of the global media. Thus, the global and local policy response depends upon the media sensitization and reportage.
My argument is not to reject the COVID-19 reality which is a serious challenge to public health, but it is pertinent that the world response must be rational in dealing with other societal and global issues also. There is a difference between awareness campaign and sensation. For example, Pakistan faced challenges of dengue and Ebola virus that are equally risky diseases with almost similar level of mortality rate. Do we have this level of preventive or curative measures or they are considered security risk?
Another argument is to challenge the notion of reactive response of the government and international organisations. They should have developed a system based on forecasting. Precautionary measures must have been adopted. Conservation of nature should have been a priority rather than any reaction. Once we have a sustainable system of living, it will prevent any infectious disease from spreading in this manner. If there is destruction towards nature, the response from the nature will not be different in the future.