An open letter to Coronavirus

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Image by CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM - This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #23312 - Wikimedia Commons

It took something microscopic like you to bring human civilisation almost to a grinding halt, writes Adrian Lee.

Dear Coronavirus, Covid-19 or just “the virus”

Regardless of what you are called, you’ve overstayed your welcome. For the record, you were never welcome.

You can remain in stealth mode for almost 14 days or go undetected. To think human beings have created weapons capable of detecting and destroying an enemy 10,000 miles away hidden deep within a cave with the push of a button.

The mighty homo sapiens – capable of clearing acres of forests to build skyscrapers, creating fossil fuel-powered vehicles that defy time and space, and sending human beings and a monkey to the moon – have failed to defeat you.

Each day, the number you’ve infected increases. Unfortunately, so do the number of casualties. Capitalist economies are hit, as silky-smooth operations at factories and firms are mostly brought to their knees.

You’ve successfully emptied airports, cities and universities. Places once congested with people now eerily resemble scenes from post-apocalyptic movies, devoid of human presence. You’ve even done the impossible – bringing Premier League football to a halt!

We know that we run a risk of meeting and bringing you home when in public spaces. But people are funny. We remain defiant and appear to be more difficult to contain than you.

Governments thus announced lockdowns or movement control orders to contain us. To prepare for this, we gathered in large crowds to raid shelves and freezers at minimarkets, supermarkets and hypermarkets (cue: Ode to Joy). All so that we can stay at home and avoid crowded spaces for fear of meeting you.

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Despite having a year’s supply of instant noodles, fresh vegetables and toilet paper, a few hours of having our movements restricted and sitting still at home becomes too unbearable.

Thus, we venture out to buy food, hold gatherings, exercise in groups or buy tickets to travel. People often think, oh this could never happen to me. But you’ve hitchhiked and travelled thousands of miles with travellers to meet other human beings.

The greatest minds living in the greatest era of human civilisation remain puzzled by you. Despite our scientific knowledge, traditional remedie, and knowledge found online and circulated through WhatsApp, we still don’t know how to get rid of you.

Some claim you “hopped” from wildlife onto humans. Others claim you’re a biochemically engineered human-made virus created to destroy civilisation. Regardless of where you are from or why you are here, you’ve changed the ways we live.

As we only want to do what is best for our survival, it is time for us to go back to basics. And the most basic is cleanliness.

As soap is the best way to get rid of you, we are retaught how to wash our hands properly. Everything is constantly being sanitised – from door handles, money and lift buttons.

We should buy food from eateries that observe proper hygiene. No more eating beside or over drains or at places with dubious cleanliness levels. Breathing in exhaust fumes or dust or having the tails of stray dogs or cats brush against your legs as you eat doesn’t make the food any tastier!

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Well, the air is cleaner and air pollution index has fallen as the streets are mostly empty and factories shut down. What better time to reduce our carbon footprint and allow ourselves to breathe more easily?

Scientists are racing to discover a vaccine to contain you. Data and information is mostly shared freely across borders. What better time than to ensure that everyone can enjoy access to free universal healthcare?

Speaking of information, we don’t need to share every message received on Facebook or WhatsApp about you. Only necessary and verified information from proper channels should be forwarded. Not every message was created to make our lives better. Delete fake news and hoaxes that could cause information overload or spark panic or chaos.

Humanity should use this opening to rebuild – by learning to treat each other with respect, for we know you don’t discriminate based on nationality, religion or social status.

You are here possibly because of our arrogance in systematically hurting humankind and destroying Mother Earth. In this dog-eat-dog world, many have forgotten their values.

Our selfishness, arrogance and false sense of superiority made many defy the laws of nature by ignoring cleanliness and destroying the earth. Many often think themselves invincible. They have forgotten about humility and the existence of a greater power.

It took something microscopic to bring human civilisation almost to a grinding halt.

Will we ever learn the errors of our ways? Or will we continue being arrogant? Only time will tell. Till then, we do have our history books to learn from and to avoid future errors.

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The greatest enemy to humanity is humanity itself. But during these trying times, we have also witnessed the best of humanity. Let’s be kind and take care of one another.

Historically, the human race has always found a way to recover from disasters, together. As we try to sort this out, I bid you farewell, Coronavirus, and hope you’ll never return. 

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