Pandemic perceptions

Published On: March 20, 2020 09:29 AM NPT By: The Week Bureau

The coronavirus pandemic has become the topic of possibly all conversations, be it at the dinner table, the office or elsewhere. The Covid-19 outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China in December 2019 and declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. Since then, there has been a lot of misinformation on it that has led to widespread panic and even racism. We asked a few people how they are dealing with it. 

Indira Ghimire, Documentation officer
I have to admit that news of the coronavirus actually didn’t bother me all that much in the beginning. Even though it was spreading worldwide, my everyday routine didn’t change much because of it. But as the death count has been rising, I have taken some precautions now. I think we all should. I used to carry hand sanitizer with me at all times. But now I actually use it a lot. I also try to avoid crowded places. When I find myself around people, I always use a mask, even though I find wearing one kind of annoying. There is a bit of fear and I’m a little freaked out but it’s not to that extent that I have started bulk buying essentials or building a bunker of sorts. I think there’s a thin line between being aware and scared and becoming paranoid. 

Aakriti Shrestha, Student
The novel coronavirus is scary and I’m a little worried. But I will definitely not go as far as to panic buy and hoard groceries and toilet paper or blame the Chinese people at a time when they are suffering so much. As the virus broke out from China first there is a lot of misinformation on the internet that, I believe, is causing unnecessary fear. I feel that it’s important to check our source of information. But I’m taking the necessary precautions—I’m washing my hands as often as I can, covering my mouth while sneezing and trying my very best to not touch my face. I think taking these simple precautions are more than enough for those who are healthy and have good immunity to stay safe. 

Saugat Mudhbari, Student
I will admit that I’m not freaking out just yet. But there are a few changes that I’ve made in my lifestyle. I wear surgical masks a lot more when I leave the house. I use hand sanitizer sometimes. But the fear hasn’t settled in yet. It’s probably because I don’t see it affecting daily life immediately around me. But there have been a lot of changes in my home though. My parents are constantly telling me to wash my hands every hour and use more hand sanitizer. Also, we are eating a lot less meat than we used to before. But then that hasn’t stopped me from having meat outside, at restaurants. 

Sanju Shah, Technical assistant at Nepal Television
Although I’m a little scared by the coronavirus pandemic, it isn’t something that has completely consumed me. I generally stay updated with the news and new findings about this issue and after going through all of that, I’m convinced it isn’t something that can’t be dealt with by taking the right measures. So, I’m taking active preventive measures like washing/sanitizing my hands frequently and properly, and wearing a mask everywhere I go—to avoid being infected by the virus but that’s it. I’m not buying and hoarding a ton of things, fearing stores will run out of supplies pretty soon, because I don’t think that will be an issue in the near future.

Prem Luitel, Government official
Now that Covid-19 has been declared a pandemic and both of our neighboring countries have had a significant number of infected people, it would be a lie to say that I think we shouldn’t be concerned about the coronavirus. There are provisions being made by the government for our protection, but I think as individuals it’s important for us to minimize the chances of getting the virus. And so, I try to maintain good hygiene, avoid going to large gatherings and only go out when needed. I feel that people should be cautious and take precautionary measures rather than become paranoid about the virus by believing all the false and sensationalized information found on the internet. If all of us were to get our information from a verified source like the WHO or other government sources, matters like panic buying or unnecessary fear would die down quickly. 

Durna Prasad Phuyal, Government officer
I was actually down with fever and cold a few days ago and I was genuinely scared, thinking it could be the novel coronavirus at that time. But it turned out to be seasonal flu and I got better. After that, I’m a lot less scared, you could say. But that’s not to say that I’m not taking the standard preventive measures—washing my hands often, wearing a mask everywhere I go, avoiding human contact as much as possible, and avoiding crowded areas. I’m not really planning to buy a year’s worth of groceries right now as I think the rumors about stores running out of supplies were bogus and spread to fulfill selfish agendas. But I also think that is a possibility if things don’t resolve soon seeing how most pharmacies have already run out of masks and sanitizers.

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