Together we can beat the pandemic

Published On: March 29, 2020 08:13 AM NPT By: Babu Ram Neupane

A sneeze or cough is a source of public scare now. A person wearing a facemask or a respirator to ease asthma affliction or allergy is perceived as a serious public health hazard

I have a pollen allergy. Even a slight exposure to it greatly agitates multiple organs of my body and often causes debilitating headaches and intermittent fevers. Every spring, I still venture out to nature walk like a warrior donning facemasks and respirators to take on the pollen head-on. For I love to devour spring smell and glory notwithstanding my physique’s loathing of its byproduct (pollen), which is a given and plentiful in the suburbs of American south.

Nonetheless, this spring is unlike any other that preceded it. I have decided to make peace with pollen and put up with the pain inflicted by it without fighting it not buying any facemasks and respirators. It is not because I have suddenly grown immune to pollen allergy or grown averse to spring. It’s because I have decided to forgo masks so that they may be used by the medical professionals, firefighters, and volunteers who need them the most in the wake of surging coronavirus infections and crowded emergency rooms.

Extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary sacrifices. These are exigent times to make significant changes in the way we live and to make good on our human quality of gregariousness. It’s time to wage an all-out war against the shared common enemy: malignant and invisible pathogen called coronavirus that has unleashed coronavirus disease (Covid-19) thereby bringing an insufferable pain onto our fellow beings.

It has threatened to alter the way we shop, socialize, and live in our communities and societies. It has struck at our very proclivity to roam free, love and be loved. It has threatened to make the world unrecognizable in terms of our preferences to fall in love and make love. It has spread its ugly wings of terror among the senior citizens, immuno-compromised and at-risk population in a very short period of time.

A sneeze or cough is a source of public scare now. A person wearing a facemask or a respirator to ease asthma affliction or allergy is perceived as a serious public health hazard. It has changed the behavior of many people in the weirdest ways possible including this scribe. Two weeks back, I went to a local pharmacy store to buy some disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizers as a precaution before the coronavirus scare had gripped America.

Panic buying had already set in. The store associates said the items flew off the shelves as soon as they were replenished. I looked for tea tree oil, isopropyl alcohol, and aloe vera gel to make the hand sanitizer on my own at home. But they were sold out too. I picked up a couple of baby wipe packets after reading the literature on them that claims to kill ninety-nine percent of germs. Can it be any weirder than this when there is no baby due in our home and our only kid is already in his late teens?

I share some common biological traits with many American perfectionists. They remain restive all their life due to these physiological attributes. America is said to have the most migrainous and insomniac population in the world. I was migrainous until I was in my early teens. I was insomniac (especially while traveling irrespective of vehicle type: bronchial old buses or deluxe tourist coaches) until I was in my late thirties. I swiftly turn insomniac even nowadays on the eve of any planned trips and/or before reaching final destinations. This reality does not sit well with me but sticks to this day even on an inter-continental jet flight.

Globalism and multilateralism are our destinies of the day.  Our fate and future are tied with those living across the seas and on the other side of the planet. We share enemies that are far more powerful than the most dreaded terrorists and outcasts. No bullet can pierce viruses’ body nor can any missile shoot them down. The only thing that matters is humanism, which is synonymous with the patriotism of this century. We cannot fend for ourselves without achieving uniformity of objectives to saving humanity by defeating the invisible enemies (diseases) in this interconnected world.


Fragility of human life and certainty of mortality aside, the coronavirus outbreak has exposed the futility of all flavors of cheapish and divisive neo-nationalism based on ethnicity and origin currently gaining traction in Asia, Europe and America. The cannon feeders and military commanders are no longer the heroes now since they cannot stop the mutating viruses which do not care about migration protocols, ports, borders and border walls.

The current strain of coronavirus has brought the world’s busiest and most vibrant cities such as Paris, Rome, London, Toronto, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York to a standstill and halted all kinds of commercial activities. It has also compelled the local authorities to ask citizens to stay at home.

Personally, working from home is the least preferred choice for me. Poring over a tiny computer monitor, making rumbling sounds on the keyboard, attending online/ virtual meetings frequently during regular work hours is the most monotonous thing to do. But not being infected and preventing others from infection is the top priority. Pursuing individual preference at the cost of public health emergency is unacceptable. Paying heed to stay at home order of the state and local authorities to help flatten the curve is of utmost importance. This will help slow down the spread and kick off containment efforts.

I miss morning commute to/from work, morning smiles in the elevator, open work space, ergonomic folding work tables, big computer monitors with perplexing but logical codes on them, and the corporate office building by a forest and overlooking a lake where the flocks of geese swim in rows splashing ripples far and wide as the sunshine plays with them in variegated colors. Exhaustion goes fleeting and exuberance proves eternal in such a natural environment.

Watching television bulletins and surfing online news portals outside of working hours is more of a nightmare experience these days as they present a grim scenario of spike in numbers of people infected with the contagious virus. It is heartbreaking to see the snowballing number of precious lives claimed by the monstrous virus every day.

In the meantime, it is heartening to have first responders, firefighters, volunteers, doctors, nurses, and health workers leading the fight against the lethal Covid -19 from the front who have put their own lives at risk to save as many people in the light of paucity of essential supplies including protective personal equipments (PPE’s) and ventilators.

This is where general public’s voluntary foregoing of masks and respirators make a huge difference in this global fight against the nefarious virus from the Great Lakes to the Great Wall, from Seoul to Seattle to Sanghai, from Wuhan to Milan, from New York to Nairobi, from California to Karachi to Kathmandu.

It’s time to give up on our obsession with partying, gathering, group walks in streets, parks, beaches, grocery stores, and socializing in clubs and gyms. Instead it’s time to pick up phones to call friends, practice virtual and online socializations and dating through FaceTime, Messenger, WhatsApp, Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting etc. By doing so, we can do our part in reducing the coronavirus induced baby boom due in the coming month of December in 2020.

It would be good to keep in mind the impending economic downturn or recession before resorting to Viagra and Yarsagumba. Playwright Philip Dawkins has a solution: adopting the habit of virtual/online sex, which he suggested through an article entitled Phone Sex is safe Sex published in The New York Times on March 20.


The worst crises bring out the best of human goodness to the fore. In the US, young people have formed online groups called Invisible Hands and Shopping Angles and enlisted members to work as local volunteers toward helping the most at risk, senior citizens and vulnerable people with grocery shopping and collecting medical supplies from the pharmacies. Brad Paisley, American country music singer and songwriter, has arranged for delivery of the items to needy senior citizens from his free grocery store located in the city of Nashville (in Tennessee), which is considered America’s country music capital.

Recently self-quarantined people in a neighborhood in hard hit Italy came out to their verandahs, porches, windows and started singing their national anthem and waving the national flag spontaneously in the midst of national tragedy.

Every cloud has a silver lining as always. There are ample reasons to have total faith in the invincibility and perseverance of human kind based on history lessons. Nothing is insurmountable to us. We have overcome many existential threats and crises. And we will get through this together. The only urgency is the unity and sanity among the world leaders to act quickly and in collaboration. They should rise to the occasion considering the gravity of the situation.

We will ultimately prevail against the pernicious pathogen. My truce with pollen continues to remain in effect until humanity weathers this unprecedented storm of pathogen induced pandemic. Then there is this looming recession that needs to be taken care of.

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