The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus disease has been affecting all aspects of our daily lives ranging from politics to the economy, tourism, formal education, social relationships, health and others either directly or directly.
So far, about 130,000 people have been infected by the disease with almost 5,000 others dead. A total of 114 countries have been affected by the outbreak which started from Wuhan, China in December, 2019. If there is anything the Coronavirus comes with, its fear and the culture of fake news which is highly practised on social media and other digital channels has aggravated the problem with vulnerable people constantly consuming malicious contents about the virus.
Politicians across the world have positioned themselves to benefit from the outbreak of the virus by using it as an excuse to project different political agenda. They see this window of opportunity as the golden chance to touch on the issues of open borders and migrants. A false narrative that migrants are aiding the spread of the virus has been projected and many people are ignorantly buying into it.
In reality, the disease has been spread across the globe mostly by travellers and tourists. Impoverished asylum seekers don’t usually get on board cruise ships.
Matteo Salvini, Italy’s populist-in-chief has blamed the country for continuing to allow migrants from Africa into the country despite the fact that the continent has only a few cases of the virus. It should be noted that Italy is the worst hit country in Europe over 10,000 cases and death toll approaching 700.
Political analysts in the United States of America are also not left out of the controversy and they have been dutifully fuelling it. Some advocates have directed their anger towards China, describing the people as ‘very hungry citizens’ who eat raw bats and different species of animals due to the alleged failure of the Communist Party to cater for the people.
Senator Tom Cotton, one of the strongest allies of President Donald Trump claims that the virus might be a product of a highly sophisticated biochemical laboratory in China. He isn’t the only one with this kind of conspiracy theory which is readily available on the internet for those interested in reading it.
Going down memory lane, this isn’t the first time politicians are weaponizing critical issues for political brickbats. In the 1980s, there was a rumour that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV was created in laboratories managed by the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA.
Trump isn’t left out of the infodemic of misinformation. The controversial leader is grabbing his share of the spoils of the crisis with his two hands by claiming he closed the borders against people coming from China in January for the purpose of saving American lives.
The world is going through the phase of deglobalization which has been reflecting in a slow down in world trade and if care isn’t taken, the Coronavirus will further worsen issues.
The truth is that the level of interdependence among countries might continue to decline if the fears of the people are aggravated and manipulated further by politicians targeting egoistic interests. The resultant effects would be trade wars, border walls and other barriers that could militate against globalization.
Studies have show that nationalism and protectionism were on the rise before the Coronavirus outbreak started. The disease favours people from that school of thought like Trump who preaches the message of ‘America First’ which almost means ‘America Alone’.
Already, countries have continued to place travel restrictions on each other as well as its citizens. China placed the severely affected city of Wuhan on lock-down and also restricted travelling in and out of the country in its efforts to combat the unseen enemy. Trump lately banned Europeans from travelling to the U.S, Italy and Denmark are also on lock-down. Additionally, Russia closed its border with Iran over Coronavirus fears. Many countries have taken diverse detrimental measures against others under the guise of the doctrine of necessity and this is expected to further deteriorate fragile relationships amongst them.
The solution to the contagion remains the employment of public health techniques aimed at passing across the right information about how to deal with the outbreak which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The deployment of financial resources by countries to undertake medical operations and scientific research coupled with international collaboration will also go a long way in containing it.
The policy of isolationism isn’t the answer as the world has become a global village where every individual seeks to travel across the globe to experience new things.