Death, desolation, devastation and isolation can near-perfectly portray the painful plight that human civilisation is experiencing now, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. The world has not been in such tough times since the last 1918 Spanish flu which decimated approximately 50 million people across the globe.
It is now literally a time when things are really falling apart. With crumbling economies, collapsing health services, and closing factories, the world is witnessing the multi-scale socio-economic shocks, disorders, and creeping insecurity with a heightened sense of struggle for survival.
What renders humans more helpless is the uniqueness and lack of a cure for Covid-19 so far. Regrettably, one salient characteristic of all pandemics is the absence of a medical remedy. The Black Death of the medieval period, the London Plague, Spanish Flu and the current coronavirus aptly validate the cited statement.
In all these cases, people showed their utter helplessness and desperation with little or no success in tackling the pestilence, having no specific and effective cure. A glimpse into the historical documents and masterpieces chronicles the traumatic experience the humans had undergone and paid the price with their lives.
Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron, Defoe's Journal of the Plague, or Camus' The Plague displayed the abyss of imagination-defying dreadfulness that human beings slipped into throughout ages. Once again, harrowing history seems to be repeating in 2020.
Living in New York, I can empirically feel the heat and anxiety stemming from the skyrocketing number of deaths and gloomy funerals every day. It is a nightmarish experience that people would like to forget.
People are dying in numbers, hospitals are overburdened, doctors are being infected, and medicine and health equipment are running out of stock. And most painfully, a decisive and proven remedy is yet to come out, although there have been myriad of rumours and speculations.
The fatal virus has been ravaging Italy, Spain, France, Iran and the US. The death toll continues unabated. All of these have metamorphosed cities and towns into ghostly places which were overcrowded with lives and entertainment even a month ago.
New York, popularly known as the capital of the world, has transformed into a dead city, and even its residents dare to tread its gothic roads – let alone the visitors. Life has come to an ultimate standstill, losing its colour, joy, vibe, and vigour. The hospitals have turned into a battleground where life and death wrestle.
Amidst this engulfing dread, uncertainty, and the struggle for survival, the recent severe outbreak in Bangladesh has augmented the fear. Even days ago, blind and unfounded guesses were made that the warm temperature would be a shield for Bangladeshi people. But reality has started showing the opposite. Coronavirus is now spreading fast in the country and it has reached the community level, which poses a looming threat for all.
Looking at the US, Italy, Spain or France, we should have garnered a good lesson. These countries have the best medical services, yet Covid-19 has wreaked havoc, taking an unimaginable number of lives within a spell of a few weeks. The countries have locked down their cities and towns and restricted public movement. Despite this, they cannot wrestle with the mortality and infections with thousands of people dying every day and a few in every minute globally.
If this is the case with the most advanced countries that have the best healthcare facilities, what can happen to a country like Bangladesh, where the doctor to patient ratio is wretchedly poor, and infrastructure is frustratingly limited.
However, one very commendable job that the government has done is closing the public and private institutions and locking down the cities and towns by cutting off transport and routes in the nick of time. Social distancing is so far the most effective and proven tool to prevent the large-scale diffusion and spread of this silent killer. Some of the developed countries have applied this strategy very earlier and have successfully halted the spread to a considerable degree.
But the reckless movement of people in Bangladesh is posing potentially the most challenge for the government and even more for themselves. People seem to have gone mad and lost all common sense especially of the young generation who regard it as axiomatic that coronavirus does not infect young folks.
However, the death tally of the last few days proved their belief wrong since several young persons have died. The message of social isolation has been widely spread throughout the country, but a good number of people do not abide by the rule.
If the battling patients at deathbeds, tear-soaked faces of doctors and nurses, the appeal of the governments, and mass grave for the dead in New York that goes viral through electronic and social media, cannot make you sense the seriousness of the disorder, then nothing can.
Police are seen beating and persuading people to stay home and help themselves and assist the doctors. But it seems to be flogging the dead horse as the heedless public does not care. The floodgate of death and consequent anarchy may open if people who are the prime carrier of the pestilence do not become conscious and maintain a safe distance for the sake of the country and for themselves.
Lastly, one statement from the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau strikes me amidst the coronavirus chaos. Urging his countrymen Trudeau said, "Your grandfather may have served this country by going abroad and fighting a war. Your mother may have fought for more equality. But now, it's your turn. … You can serve your country by staying home and following the rules."
In the same vein of Trudeau, I request the Bangladeshi people to serve the country in a sui generis way by staying home, following the safety rules, and being a "Quiet Hero."
The author studies Global Development at Cornell University, New York, USA