Gustavo Fring (Pexels)

Why the Covid-19 pandemic doesn’t regress, despite being seriously tackled

When the pandemic appeared at the beginning of 2020, the entire world was caught off guard, and it resulted in some weeks of panic and chaos, where information about the ways of contamination and the prevention measures were unclear and sometimes contradictory. We were even told that the face mask was not useful, probably because some countries didn’t have enough to face the pandemic…

But now, as we are approaching the end of the year, we know a lot more about Covid-19, and even if we still don’t have vaccines or effective treatment, at least we are clear about the ways to protect ourselves and to prevent the spreading of the virus.

Despite all of that, we have not been able to contain the disease, and a second wave is now in front of us. Why did we end up in that situation, after having already experienced violent measures like lockdowns, which have dealt a fatal blow to our economy?

How can we explain that all the protective measures deployed are not working as well as expected?

First, let’s address once and for all, in order not to come back on it later, the less glorious observation of the story: there is a part (a very small one hopefully!) of the humanity that seems to be really stupid, if I believe the recommendations that you can find on World Health Organization website. It’s presented as Myth busters, but the very fact that they need to address such topics proves that they are people gullible enough to believe in such BS. I’ll just mention a few, and you will understand what I mean:

· “Drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous”

· “Adding pepper to you soup or other meals DOES NOT prevent or cure COVID-19”

· “COVID-19 is NOT transmitted through houseflies”

· “5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19

If you don’t understand what you are dealing with, how can you combat it?

Then you have another small part that I would call “the protesters”. They complain about all imposed measures, even if it’s for their own good. Thus, they won’t wear the mask because it’s restricting their freedom and they will go on frequenting crowded bars and restaurants because “no one can prevent me from living my life to the fullest and as I think fit”.

Those two classes of diehards being addressed, we remain with the largest section of the population, who is neither silly nor stubborn, who more or less understand what’s at stake and is willing to apply the recommended measures to fight the disease.

Nonetheless, and despite the fact that we know now what to do to protect ourselves, why are the measures not working and why are we not seeing a drop in the number of contaminations yet?

I see many reasons that can explain the situation we face now.

The first reason is that some people have not yet understood how grave the situation is. They think that the sanitary measures are out of proportion, unreasonable or unfair, and won’t comply properly with them. Those ones might go out to the restaurant or organise a gathering of 80 family members the day before lockdown, just to use their last chance!

The second results from a class of persons I would call “the Invincibles”: they don’t care about catching COVID-19; they are convinced that, because they are young and healthy, they won’t be harmed too much. Good for them, except if it leads to not respecting the basic prevention rules and especially not wearing the facemask. Because a lot of people still think that the mask is about protecting themselves; but it’s not how it works: wearing the facemask mainly protects the others around, and a little yourself. To be protected yourself, you need others around to wear the mask! Maybe advertising campaigns should focus more on this side, instead of scaring people with video sequences of grandma in intensive care after contracting the virus at a family gathering.

Speaking of family gatherings, we hear now that they are the main source of infection, along with some working conditions in specific companies; I know that it’s painful not to be able to see our family for a couple of months, but I’m flabbergasted by the way some people try to circumvent the rule. I have a friend who is marrying her daughter, and she explained that she will organise 2 different gatherings each of 50 persons to avoid the limitation. Does it really make sense in this context?

Another problem is the way most people wear the mask. Look around you and see the amount of people who have it under their nose or worse, around their chin. And this is particularly the case if you observe people who need to wear it all day long, like restaurant waiters or shop owners. At the end of the day, because it’s uncomfortable, and because they are not used to it, they do not wear it the proper way. The issue is that those people, who can perfectly be asymptomatic (it seems that half of the COVID-positive are…) meet hundreds of people a day!

And while we are on the topic of the mask, there is another part of the population who is not respecting the hygiene rules about it: who won’t change it every 3 or 4 hours as recommended, who will touch it many times with their hands, who will fold it with many manipulations after use and put it in their bag to use it again the day after, and so on…

What conclusion can we draw from all that?

If we are not able to slow the spread of the virus, it’s not a problem of rules, they are already implemented. It’s not a problem of means or resources; they have mostly been dedicated. In the end, it’s really the issue of human behavior!

The fact is, unlike Asian countries that have already been struck by other similar diseases, the mask is not yet embedded in our culture, and it’s still not a reflex, being for the use, or for the hygiene rules that come with it. I have to confess that sometimes, I go out and after some steps outside I come back with “heck, I forgot that damn mask…”

Sometimes as well, I open my door to the deliveryman without thinking of the mask.

We still have a long way to go before the face mask and other preventive measures are properly implemented and embedded in our lifestyle, but this is for the moment the only way for us to be able to continue living a normal life.

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Jocelyne Sese

Jocelyne Sese

Former HR professional. I feel like writing anything that comes to mind