Public cooperation is key in fight against coronavirus
We are living through what must be one of the most frightening tragedies humanity has ever experienced. Never has a virus spread so fast and affected so many in such a short time.
Regardless of advancements in medical research, the average life expectancy in Saudi Arabia has risen from 52.7 in 1970s to 75.13 in 2019. And regardless of how serious Middle East respiratory syndrome and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) were, coronavirus appears worse, both difficult to contain and challenging to eradicate.
Instant communication has made awareness all the more palpable, although sometimes the sources are questionable. Increasing numbers, more dehumanized by the day, have put justified fear in the hearts of global populations, with hand-washing and disinfection appearing to be the only effective preventative measures that can be taken for now. Photos and clips of deserted streets around the world seem to mimic novels and films created by overzealous authors and filmmakers in a case where reality and fiction intertwine.
And life goes on … marred by the shadow of an invisible disease that has managed to lock down nations. Bustling capitals, renowned for their tourist attractions and landmarks, culinary excellence and for being centers of fashion, are now nothing more than ghost towns, void of life and soul.
The modern urban lifestyle we took for granted has been challenged both socially and economically, and as more of our comfort zones come to a standstill, however temporarily, we question the possible alternatives of a “new normal,” adjusting and adapting to a new way of life, and thinking of ways to deal with a possible “new” virus that may appear in future.
I, along with so many others in the Kingdom, applaud the way the government has dealt with the coronavirus so far. It is in times of crisis that leadership embodies credible governance by imposing strategies and procedures to stabilize the situation. The Ministry of Health has taken pro-active steps in compliance with the World Health Organization to contain the spread of the virus. Shutting down airports, banning large gatherings, closing educational facilities, and now restaurants and malls in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus, are all measures to control this pandemic.
However, without the cooperation of the people, these procedures will fail. Doctors, nurses, health care officials and volunteers are to be praised for the hours they spend identifying and treating the affected and helping those in isolation. Their endeavors would be in vain and meaningless without the support and understanding of the public. After all, the vigorous actions taken by the authorities have not been adopted haphazardly.
We all know how serious and devastating the situation is. We must abide by the directives of the health authorities, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
Hoda Al-Helaissi has been a member of the Shoura Council since 2013. She is also a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee within the Shoura.