by Hannes Wessels
Mass hysteria grips the world as a crisis unprecedented in history grips the globe; stock-markets are crashing, businesses are closing, sporting events are being cancelled, schools and universities have slammed their doors shut, panic buying is emptying supermarkets and people are literally running away from another in a desperate bid to avoid the contagion and stay alive. In the midst of this frenzy, I’m left wondering what it is that I’m missing because I simply don’t understand the madness that has subsumed us.
I, along with millions of other concerned people, watched with interest, the events that unfolded on the cruise-liner docked off America’s west coast. The ship, concentrating thousands of people in a small, enclosed area, serviced by a single air-conditioning system, provided the perfect nurturing environment for the dreaded virus to have its deadly way. I fully expected to see hundreds of body-bags being removed for careful disposal, a long way away from the terrified Californians looking on in terror. But nothing like that happened; as far as I know, while many were infected, only two people over 80 succumbed. Everyone else is absolutely fine. If this is what happens on a cruise-ship I am left thinking we’re all in with a pretty good chance of surviving.
Credible statistics should place this ‘crisis’ in perspective, but it looks like few are paying any attention. The University of Hamburg reports that worldwide, in the first two months of this year, there were 2,360 deaths from the Corona virus and 69,602 from Colds. The Centre for Disease Control reports that 22,000 people died in the US from the seasonal Flu, which world-wide kills between 291,000 and 646,000 people a year.
From what I can gather, even when infected, the virus is easy to treat and the risks of death remarkably low. But I appear to be part of a very small minority and my own daughter agrees with the majority in strongly admonishing me for being so oblivious and insensitive to the approaching apocalypse.
Maybe she’s right, and age and previous experience of adversity has turned me into a soulless cynic, but I feel I’ve seen this movie before and I also don’t trust most politicians, nor do I believe much that much we hear from the powerful, unelected bureaucrats who run influential agencies like the World Health Organisation. China, incidentally, is a major donor to the WHO so no surprise to see the head, former Ethiopian politician, Mr. Tedros Ghebreyesus and his associates falling over themselves to shield their benefactor from any unwarranted criticism in triggering the outbreak. But what I do know is we heard from the same stripe of politicians and bureaucrats that AIDS was going to wipe out most of the African population and decimate the heterosexual community of the world; then there was ‘Mad Cow’, Zika, Ebola and then SARS had everyone racing for a mask. Now we have ‘Covid-19’, with similarly dubious credentials when it comes to its ability to spread and its lethality, but somehow this has got way more traction and caused more turbulence for reasons not entirely clear to me. However, the crass stupidity of the masses is surely a factor. When the sales of Corona beer tank because people believe it carries the virus, then you know there are a lot of dumb people out there, who believe anything, no matter how preposterous. This mass idiocy provides easy fodder for politicians and others who make hay while the sun shines on pandemonium.
The situation has not been helped by the politician everyone loves to hate; ironically, he’s the guy that gets ripped because he’s in favour of secure borders that stem the flow of illegal migrants that help facilitate the spread of disease. ‘So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down; life and the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of Corona Virus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!’ President Trump tweeted. Well we all know he’s wrong about everything so these rare words of reason, amid a welter of horrifying verbiage spilling from the mouths of most other politicians, must be treated with the contempt they deserve, and the fear-filled screams continue as mobs storm supermarkets with reckless abandon.
At the other end of the spectrum, South Africa and the world, loudly applauded President Ramaphosa’s recent address to the nation when he declared a ‘state of disaster’ and warned his countrymen in grave and sombre terms that, “The world is facing a medical emergency greater than in a century…” and that the country was staring into an apocalyptic abyss filled with virus-filled corpses. But the good news from the president was that the cavalry was arriving in the form of the splendid ranks of the ANC and we were in safe hands. This, from the head of a government that has broken or stolen most of what it has thus far touched, including the health-care system, did not exactly pierce my heart and bring me to grateful tears of relief. On the contrary, knowing that these are the same people who have found a way to blame Jan van Riebeeck for the collapse of Eskom, I’m sure they see the virus as heaven sent; they are well schooled in the old adage; ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’. With this ‘emergency’ to hand, they have what they need to distract the populace from their misrule; to interfere with our constitutional rights because this is ‘war’ in another form, and provide the suffering proletariat with an excellent new excuse for all that has gone wrong in the country on their watch. Incidentally, at the time of this riveting address, nobody in South Africa had thus far perished from the virus and there are 85 infections. Quite a few people were murdered, and many died from neglect in government hospitals, but that’s another old story we’re all tired of hearing about.
Looking at this carnage, all I know is I don’t know the full story. But I do know, when crooked politicians around the world and the serial liars that run the mass-media sing from the same hymn-sheet, there is more to this than meets my jaundiced eye and I get very nervous.