Zakaria Virk, Editor
As of the writing of this editorial, there have been 2.7 million worldwide Coronavirus cases, 180,000 deaths, while in the US 825,000 cases and 47,000 deaths mostly in New York. Meanwhile, in the UK there have been 140,000 cases and 18,738 deaths.
Virologists had been warning for weeks that the Coronavirus outbreak could explode, but political leaders, particularly UK & USA did little to halt its advance. Like the virus itself, which was traced to the Chinese city of Wuhan (and leaders there denied and downplayed for weeks).
Few may have expected inspired leadership from U.S. President Trump, who dismissed the coronavirus as a Democratic “hoax” and predicted it would disappear “like a miracle.” Even so, his fumbling of a national address on the emergency, followed by his trademark blame-shifting for his government’s lack of preparedness (“I don’t take responsibility at all”), will be remembered as the lowest point in American political leadership. Now POTUS has suggested injecting disinfectants into the body as treatment and to clean lungs.
Although President Trump gets the most attention for his corona bungling, he’s hardly alone. Brazilian strongman President Jair Bolsonaro, characterized the coronavirus panic as a media-fueled “fantasy.” A day later, his press secretary tested positive.
In the UK PM Boris Johnson failed to attend five high-level emergency meetings called to prepare for the outbreak in January and February 2020. PM announced Britain’s version of a lockdown on March 23 — later than many countries in Europe. Since then, he has spent 26 days away from his duties, first sick and in self – isolation, then in a hospital ward and an intensive care unit,
PM Johnson was advised not to shake hands but he did anyway and caught the virus. After leaving hospital Boris Johnson thanked…. Jenny McGee 35, originally from New Zealand, along with Luis Pitarma 29, from Portugal, for standing by Mr. Johnson’s bedside for 12 hours at a time as his life hung in the balance. Yet he is the one who was against immigration like the man in US.
The biggest impact of this pandemic has been on religious rites and rituals. It will no longer be possible to kiss Pope’s hands, no need to gather in St Peter’s Square, no need to drink HOLY water whether it is from Vatican, Ganges, or Zamzam. Suddenly these waters don’t cure. It is no longer incumbent to gather for cherished taraweeh prayer, or congregate for Juma. It is forbidden for relatives to be pallbearer at the funeral of a relative. Like telemedicine, tele-worshipping is becoming popular. It was mandatory to stand shoulder to shoulder now worshippers stand six feet apart in the mosques. Mullahs, Rabbi’s and Pundits have become redundant. Will there ever be Eid, Hajj or Umra? It is a wakeup call for religious leaders to plan for a changed world where religion can stick to the old ways.
Coronavirus is going to bring drastic changes to Western societies and economies. Borders will no longer be open to travellers. Shortage of medical supplies will force countries to make locally. There will be strong demand for public health care. Boring and costly buildings will be thing of the past as people are easily working from homes. There will be no business travel when there is Zoom and Skype available. When it’s all over, there will be inquiry commissions looking into who did what? It’s not over till it’s over.
But when will it End?