(English version only)
The first quarter of Year 2020 is indelible for us in Hong Kong and for our Earth in the way that World War III seems to have started from here. It is, however, a war without tanks, aircrafts, guns and bombs. The remarkable offensive weapon is a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus which can be caught at any time by anyone, no matter how vigorous, superior or powerful these people are. According to the compiled figures from Johns Hopkins University, as of 3 April 2020, 1,016,401 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed globally with 53,160 deaths recorded. Many countries have unleashed decisive wartime efforts by taking various restrictive measures like city lockdown, travel ban, mandatory quarantine and shelter-in-place order. This is going to be a long war, over the next months, entering into perhaps 2021.
Since the epidemical outbreak, the healthcare systems and medical personnel all over the world have been under stinging pressure. Meanwhile, the life routine of the general public is also confined to an odd mode represented by numbers: staying 6 feet apart, washing hands for 20 seconds, sourcing respirators at ASTM level 3 or N95 standard, spacing restaurants’ tables out by 1.5 metres, imposing a 14-day quarantine, forbidding gatherings of 4+ persons…… All attempts are made to flatten the curve and have inevitably put commuting, schooling and socialising on hold, not to mention the suspension of elective surgeries and political rallies. Most importantly, people are frightened that the worldwide economy has found itself in deep water, as it matters to livelihood. Under the pandemic, the poor has become poorer. Mainly affluents can afford to practise prolonged social distancing, mask wearing, hand sanitising and home isolation for which a sizable house or adequate money should be available. Folks living in the impoverished area even have no access to clean running water for flushing away the virus.
In the face of economic downturn, some people are dreadfully hit by the sudden disruption of supply chains and rapid decrease in retail sales value, while others see opportunities to cooperate on business issues pertaining to climate change and on-line activities. This evinces the rule that something generally viewed as negative can have a bright side depending on the changes in context. More silver linings emerged from the present calamity include among others: an Italian priest with COVID-19 died after he had given his ventilator to a younger victim; the German authorities spared their hospital beds to nearly 50 patients from Italy; and universities in both east and west have quickly designed open-source face shields to address the global demand for personal protective equipment.
Now, on this battlefield, we are all being shot by one enemy - the COVID-19. The probability of keeping the largest number of survivors highly hinges on (1) whether we genuinely feel easy to hide ourselves at home in order not to contract the lethal virus; and (2) our ability, passion and resolve to share the necessities with others particularly the underprivileged. Concerning the first success factor, researchers of the Princeton University have lately discovered how “loners” will save society (https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000642#sec012). Its conclusion may help us develop inner peace to overcome the coronavirus attack. As for the second key to winning the war, I earnestly hope you will embark on lending a helping hand to the needy including ceasing panic buying.
I·CARE Centre for Whole-person Development