Coronavirus, Macau Photo Agency @ Unspalsh

The divisive paranoia of coronavirus

COVID-19. Widely known as coronavirus. It’s hard to have a dinner conversation avoiding the topic. What are you doing at work? What is your school doing? Did you see the latest map? How long will it take until we are all quarantined and there is no point. At its best coronavirus is creating interesting intellectual and ethical debates. At its worst, it is creating paranoia and divisiveness.

The Paranoia

I am the mother of a 3 year old that has had multiple prior respiratory illnesses. 2 weeks ago, he granted us another pneumonia after catching the flu, just as we thought he had “grown out of it“, as per doctors’ expectations. Well he did not quite entirely. And now there is a virus out there that it is said it is fine for children but less so if you have any preexisting conditions. It is like the insurance companies – don’t worry, we will get you covered, unless you have a problem already.

So since the day I came back from half-term, I was admittedly paranoid. I traveled via Geneva with hand gel in hand, or shall I say in everyone’s hands? Who cares if people says it does not work, isn’t that what they say about homeopathy as well?.

As I arrived to the office to find a ban broader than the official guidelines my heart starting to pound. Should I take my children off school. Was the private sector better informed? How will I protect my son. Should I ship him to Portugal and keep him away from us? Honestly, all this crossed my mind in the first 10 minutes that I was in and I found out about my daughter’s school non existing policy on this.

The Balance

As I went through the week, I continue to lose balance. As Little Girl C was mildly ill and I knew someone in her class had been in Italy and avoided declaring where, I chose not to send her in, as I could tell her immune system was down. I asked in Ballet – no policy. Well, I guess she is missing ballet this week then.

By Thursday, the travel ban in the office continued to progress so I cancelled myself out of a cooking course networking event where again there was no specific policy. When I mentioned my position to the organizer she mocked me and asked if my employer had special transportation arranged for me. She did not have the guts to reply back when I explained to her what it means to follow guidelines and keep my ability to work allied to the fact that my son has higher risk. Maybe there was nothing to mock about anymore.

No matter where I turned to, all the roads led me to coronavirus. From dinner parties to the dire state of the financial markets. It’s like nothing else mattered.

The Other Side

My big Sis is the most balanced person. Actually, she is extreme in how balanced she is. Skiing in Italy during the week, we had multiple conversations about the possibility of her self-quarantining. As a practical person she struggled seeing why. And I get it. The official guidelines suggest there is no need unless you are in Category 1 countries. Or if you have symptoms. So why quarantine.

There is a reason official guidelines from informed bodies exist. It is to avoid hysteria or general paranoia. It is also to prevent people from making these sort of decisions on the basis of personal preference. Whether I like it or not, I respect that in my son’s nursery they are asking people to self-disclose but only Category 1 countries are quarantined. In my daughter’s school however, it is only about washing hands and expecting people will do the right thing. I respect that less.

Unfortunately, human beings have shown through multiple eras that they need guidelines and enforcement. Moreover, guidelines ensure fairness to avoid certain groups being able to put more pressures than others and win because they can yield a specific card. It makes everyone equal. Or at least it should.

My current side

I see all this. In fact, I pride myself for being a balanced person in these situations. Or at least a self-aware person. For the coronavirus game, I decided self-aware was all that I could be. I have tried my best to be balanced but I suffer from 2 attenuating conditions. Firstly, I am in a work environment of extremes and am bombarded with information about this all day long. Secondly, my son.

Only tonight I got up times without count to check on his persistent high fever. I could hear he had no cough. And I know he had a mild tummy-ache. But at 8.30 am I was calling the nursery and demanding to know if there was any remote chance he could be exposed. GDPR kicked in until I explained in tears the problem I was facing and how I needed to at least know if anyone had already been quarantined on the basis of being from a Category 2 area + symptomatic. They had mercy and confirmed they had not. I took a deep breath and knew – I can not be balanced.

At least I was consistent with my beliefs and kept myself quarantined today. I don’t need to bring into the office anything that does not need to go there. And until we confirm we are all ok, I will keep away. Yes, I am going above and beyond official guidelines, but in this case, I harm only myself.

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One comment

  1. You’re not alone in riding these emotions . . we have all been there and will be again. Just a matter of time.

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