Coronavirus transmission: stress, rumors, even violence: fear of coronavirus becomes viral | World News
From serious officials trying to calm the panic of a building. From your spouse. From the smarty who recites the many most likely ways to die: smoking, car accidents, flu.
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None of that seems to matter.
As the number of cases increases, more than 76,000 and counting, fear advances like a tsunami. And not only in the areas surrounding the Chinese city of Wuhan, the site of the vast majority of coronavirus infections.
The subway cars in Tokyo and Seoul are more like hospital rooms, with armies of masked travelers looking dirty or sneezing. The owner of a restaurant in a Chinatown in South Korea says that visitors have declined by 90%.
You probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than buying facial masks in parts of Asia. Conferences and events have been interrupted from Beijing to Barcelona to Boston. Fights in Japan; riots in Ukraine. Rumors that toilet paper and napkins could be used as masks emptied the shelves of paper products from East Asian stores.
“Fear is a very strong emotion, and the fear that prevails over the new coronavirus drives people to do things irrationally without thinking clearly,” said Bernie Huang, 31, a high school teacher in Taipei, Taiwan, who He resisted the bathroom that now relaxes. Paper shopping spree.
If you take the long-term view, the panic has marched along with the pandemic for as long as the history has been recorded. The plague that devastated Athens in the 5th century BC. C. The Black Plague that eradicated much of Europe in the fourteenth century. And, more recently, AIDS, Ebola, SARS, MERS, swine and bird flu.
Scientists, statisticians and people who are far from the line of fire can make fun, but the fear, which is transmitted by word of mouth and, more quickly, through online publications, is real.
“Fear can do more harm than the virus,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in response to panic buying toilet paper, canned food and instant noodles after the government warned of the new virus.
Perhaps you feel more intensely in the places where crowds meet: churches, shopping areas, schools.
In the Philippines, almost half of the banks were empty for recent Sunday masses in many churches. In a Protestant church in northern Seoul, officials completely switched to online worship after it was discovered that a virus patient had attended services days before testing positive.
The Lotte department store in Seoul closed for several days due to disinfection after it was discovered that a Chinese tourist with the virus visited him. He reportedly lost about 20 billion won ($ 16.9 million) in revenue, according to security analyst figures.
A mobile fair in Barcelona was canceled. The PlayStation manufacturer Sony withdrew from a video game conference in Boston for “growing concerns” related to the virus. The organizers said the event will continue next week but “with improved cleaning.”
In Namdaemun, the largest traditional market in Seoul, companies saw large sales declines after an infected person visited the area last month.
“Merchants say their businesses are now dying,” said Chun Yong-bum, head of an association of thousands of merchants in Namdaemun.
The South Korean Ministry of Education recently issued a notice to universities to postpone the start of March next semester due to concerns that thousands of Chinese students return to schools abroad.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed concern that “excessively inflated fear” was hurting South Korea’s economy by suppressing public consumption and leisure activities.
The most anticipated meeting in Asia, the next Summer Olympics in Tokyo, has also been beset by fear.
Although he later backed down, the CEO of the Tokyo Olympic Games, Toshiro Muto, recently said he was “seriously concerned” that the virus could disrupt the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“One thing I’m noticing right now is that fear is spreading faster than the virus, and it is important that we stifle that fear,” said Craig Spence, spokesman for the International Paralympic Committee.
In Japan, fear and the virus have crossed more visibly on a large cruise ship in the port of Yokohama, where thousands of passengers and crew were quarantined for two weeks while hundreds of people on board tested positive for the virus.
A quarantined passenger hung a banner that said: “There is no information … Stressed. Many bad rumors.”
Internet encourages many of those rumors.
In Malaysia, a rumor on social networks that tangerines carry the virus caused some initial panic until health officials discredited it.
When it was learned that a journalist reporting on the leader of Japan had contact with an infected driver and was in quarantine, a web edition of the sensationalist magazine Weekly Post stated: “Coronavirus has sent shockwaves to the prime minister’s office.”
Fear, and possibly a dark sense of humor, can also help explain some strange behaviors: images of people who use orange peels as masks; children in strollers wrapped in what looks like dry cleaning plastic.
In Taiwan, people began to stock up on toilet paper and napkins after an Internet rumor said they could be used as masks to stop the spread of the virus, said Yang Bo-ken, deputy director of the government’s Industrial Development Office.
The Taiwan Criminal Investigation Office recommended the prosecution of three women on charges that they used the popular LINE social media service to suggest the use of napkins, sanitary napkins and toilet paper as a substitute for the mask, an office spokesman said.
Fear has also led to anarchy.
In Kobe, Japan, it was reported that 6,000 surgical masks were stolen from a hospital.
Several hundred residents who feared infection in Ukraine clashed for hours with the police while blocking a road to a building where more than 70 people evacuated from China due to the virus were to be quarantined.
Two passengers in a subway in Fukuoka, Japan, fought after a man who did not wear a mask started coughing, which caused the man next to him to press an emergency alarm, Kyodo News reported.
“Fear is spreading among passengers. We plan to promote the cough label, such as wearing facial masks,” a city transport official told the news agency.
In Hong Kong, where people lined up to buy essential items outside stores, three people with knives allegedly robbed a delivery man outside a supermarket of precious rolls of toilet paper worth more than 1,000 Hong Kong dollars ($ 128).
Governments have not always known how to handle the situation.
According to reports from the Samoa Observer, eight citizens of Samoa were denied entry to the nation’s airport and sent back to Fiji because they had traveled through Singapore, which the government qualifies as a “high risk” country.
And when a Canadian teenager collapsed in a building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a medical team arrived with dangerous material suits. The health ministry then said it was a precaution and that the teenager had no virus.