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Coronavirus pandemic is on our doorstep

Judith Hartl / DW No Comments Share:
People wearing masks are seen in Milan, Italy, on Feb. 24, 2020. Six people have died and 222 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) nationwide in Italy, Angelo Borrelli, chief of Civil Protection Department and Extraordinary Commissioner for the Coronavirus Emergency, told a press conference at 6 p.m. local time on Monday. (Photo by Daniele Mascolo/Xinhua)

It is carnival season in many regions of Europe. And, like every year, now is the time when revellers peck each other on the cheeks, kiss and hug total strangers, and spend hours in overcrowded bars. These interactions at close quarters, of course, make it easy for viruses and bacteria to spread – as does the wintry climate.

How, you might be wondering, is any of this connected to the Coronavirus outbreak? As the virus continues to infect ever more people, scientists are starting to expect a global outbreak, or pandemic. This should not send us into a state of panic, however, as a global outbreak says nothing about how dangerous the virus itself is. A pandemic merely means the virus is prevalent across the globe – and that it’s time for us to rethink our approach towards COVID-19.

So far, after all, we have been imposing quarantines or putting infected people on lockdown to prevent them from further spreading the virus. But with a pandemic looming, these measures may now have become pointless. We are facing a new phase of the Coronavirus spread.

Going forward, everything will depend on trying to mitigate the effects of a pandemic. This will mean each and everyone one of us doing our utmost to prevent infections.

And this brings us right back to carnival season. Italian authorities were right to call off the Venice Carnival because this drastically reduces the risk of individuals infected with the Coronavirus spreading it. These and other major events, such as football matches, conferences and festivals, catalyse the spread of viruses – so cancelling them as a precautionary measure is sensible. It is far wiser to be extra careful than to downplay the risk. Iran, for example, has made the right choice in closing schools, universities and other public events and institutions in order to conduct decontamination operations.

So, what else can we do to avoid contracting or spreading the virus? One of the simplest and most effective steps we can take is to regularly wash our hands. We should also refrain from touching other people’s faces, we should use disinfectant, stop shaking hands with others and keep physical contact to a minimum. So next time you meet someone, try giving them an elbow bump, a wave, a nod or a bow.

Try to avoid major events and don’t get peeved when your favourite football team postpones a match, or when a hotly anticipated music festival is called off.

It is understandable that Germany’s carnival festivities are going ahead as planned – but it may also serve as a bizarre, unchecked real-life study into the spread of the Coronavirus. Many visitors from abroad, including the US, Europe and also Asia, come to Germany to experience the carnival. And that significantly increases the danger that COVID-19 will be passed from one reveller to the next. Let’s hope souvenirs and happy memories are all they take home with them. DW

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