Viral Confusion

It’s just as well that Bangalore is currently in the grips of exam season which means kids and their parents are pretty much trapped at home. The former to ostensibly study and the latter to enforce study and live in the delusion of having exercised good parenting practices. There is not much of eating out, shopping or visiting movie theatres. At least for the next one month neither party has to worry too much about the Corona virus (or Covid 19) which seems to be sweeping around the world and making mincemeat of everyone’s nerves. But if you thought quarantining yourself was the solution to avoiding the virus, think again. The rumour mongering around Covid 19 has been more infectious than possibly the virus itself.

The stories, theories and conspiracies abound and grow larger in the re telling. Somewhat like Chinese whispers (pun totally intended). Beginning with its origins – the virus emanated from contact with animals in the Wuhan market, possibly the animals sneezed on people; it was transmitted from bats that were eaten by the Chinese; it was transmitted by snakes that ate the bats and were in turn eaten by the Chinese; the roofs of the homes in Wuhan have also played a part because they are rumoured to be an ideal habitat for chrysanthemum bats. There were stories that China was developing the virus as a biological weapon and it got out of hand and then there was the story that the US and UK developed the virus and released it to deliberately ruin the Chinese economy and so on and so forth.  

Speculation is rife about the number of people already infected. No one is believing the official figures put out by various governments. Because, as everyone knows, governments lie. The actual figures of people infected and deaths are speculated to run into hundreds of thousands as opposed to the merely hundreds.  In India so far there have been 5 reported cases. Goodness knows how many people are wandering about with Corona virus undetected and thinking instead that they have a regular viral fever which is rampant here at any time of the year. Besides, who in India has the time to detect Covid19 when at any given time there are any number of people running around with Dengue, typhoid, H1N1, bird flu and the gods alone know what else. There is also the possibility, as warned by that great announcer – WhatsApp message – that people popping bubble wrap could have contracted the virus since the air inside the bubble wrap originates from China! There goes the pleasure of online shopping, which is all about bubble wrap anyway.

The symptoms of the virus do not seem to be unique and can easily be confused with a regular viral fever, flu or even dengue. But that hasn’t stopped the internet from putting out random information and videos of people collapsing like gnats in streets and staggering about the place like a zombie apocalypse.

Since there is no vaccine or specific medication for Covid 19 (the pharmaceutical industry is of course working away at it and will make tonnes of money before this all dies down), the possibilities of treatment are endless. People have jumped into the fray and are prescribing home remedies like drinking rasam, homeopathic medicines, ayurvedic medicines and also Chinese traditional medicines (which is fine as long as they don’t involve bats and snakes). The one wonderful meme that is all over the net claims that alcohol helps prevent Covid19 – we are definitely going with this one. We suggest heading out to the shops before stocks run out.

Our personal precaution however is to stay at home, read a book, drink stuff (tea, coffee or wine, whichever goes with the book) and best stick to buying your own books for now as borrowing them may be fraught with danger. One never knows who may have been sneezing on the book. And if it seems like we are making light of a very serious situation, we prefer that to the alternative which would be to start freaking out.

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