Perspective

It baffles me to no end how even serious media seem to spread panic about the current corona virus (2019-nCoV). And I am not even talking about “social media”, where things go haywire by their very nature. 1

It’s madness right now. Countries are evacuating their citizens by special actions. The stock markets react negatively, as they always do, given the psychology of investors. Sure, it does look bad in China. But we’ve been here before.

We need some perspective here. Really. Let’s get a rational grasp on things, and act accordingly, right now, and going forward.

The other day I read, “the corona virus spreads exponentially!”, as if this was something really dangerous, even exceptional, about this virus. No, each virus that is transferred from one human to the next does that. It’s the nature of human interaction, and math, not something to panic about.

Then, the numbers. Two thousand infected! Now ten thousand! Now… 2

Let’s compare to the seasonal flu. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), worldwide, annual flu epidemics are estimated to result in

  • about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, and
  • about 290,000 to 650,000 respiratory deaths.

That’s per annum. I wonder how many of the people writing, or panicking, about the dangers of the corona virus get a vaccination against the seasonal flu, given these numbers.

Of course we – the global we – must take measures against the further spreading of the corona virus. Even drastic ones if needed, if we see that this corona virus is way worse than the flu. I don’t want to contract it as the next gal, or guy. But all level-headed, please. To be fair, listening to some government officials conveys that they do take measures and act with that mindset. I am not sure their message gets through to the public forcefully enough in general, though. Why? Their messages are bland, no drama. Nothing to attract clicks.

Here on the island, everyone is screened for illness upon entering, all year through. I have experienced the same on other small islands, such as the Seychelles, and in the Caribbean. Small islands need to keep out any infectious illness at all cost. A local friend told me that tourists that were suspected of not being at full health when entering Mauritius, or when having visited suspicious countries in the weeks before, can get visits by governmental health inspectors to check up on them. It’s a serious matter, and it’s taken and handled seriously, but continuously, not just upon a global frenzy.


  1. “Social media” is (also) a virus that we should be concerned about, but that’s a topic for another day. ↩︎

  2. About 17,000 globally, as of today, mostly in China. ↩︎