For the past 3 months, the world is under constant threat of the COVID-19 outbreak. As of today, more than 150 thousand people have been infected. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, nations have implemented various different measures, ranging from border control to mandatory isolation, and honestly speaking, I can’t agree with the vast majority of nations in this regard.
But first, I would like to point out the fact that my life hasn’t been affected by COVID-19 in a meaningful way, therefore my opinion may potentially be biased. I'm also not a public health professional, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt.
While I’m not suggesting that governments are overreacting to COVID-19, I do believe that governments should prioritise the economy, and make sure not to disrupt people’s lives when drafting policies to stop the virus.
So far, a few countries, including China, Italy, and Spain have implemented a mass quarantine policy, and I find that absolutely unacceptable. I believe that freedom of movement should always be a fundamental part of human rights, and should never be violated even in such difficult time.
More countries are implementing tighter border control in order to combat the virus. While I usually believe in open border, I can somewhat get onboard with such policies. However, I think it’s important to not to discriminate people based on their nationalities. Countries like Singapore, Taiwan, and Indonesia are banning Chinese nationals from entering their countries, and I believe these policies are neither appropriate nor effective. Viruses infect people with no regard to their nationalities, and the odds of anyone in the world having COVID-19 are basically equal.
Lots of people are mad at WHO for not mentioning Wuhan in the name of COVID-19, and they justify their criticism by naming other diseases, such as MERS and Japanese encephalitis, both of them mention places in their name. But I think that’s not a good enough justification. Just because these names exist doesn’t mean they should. To my knowledge, WHO objected to the name “MERS”, but was forced to adopt it after ICTV named it as such. To this day, Legionnaires' disease is still widely associated with veterans, even though they are by no means related, and we should try our best to avoid such associations for any new diseases in the future.
Lots of people are praising South Korea for their measures combating COVID-19, but I disagree. By publishing detailed information of the infected people, their privacy rights are seriously violated. It creates division in the society, and encourages bullying. While it might be an effective way to contain the virus, it’s outrageous from a human rights standpoint.
The policy I can most agree with so far is the United Kingdom’s. In order to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed, they will not test patients with mild symptoms, and are instead encouraging them to stay at home. I think that makes a lot of sense, because even if they do go to the hospital and get tested, they can’t do much other than waiting for the symptoms to go away.
Overall, I think it’s appropriate for governments to strongly urge people to stay at home, and avoid large gatherings, but forcing people to follow these recommendations, or even threaten them with penalties is a step too far.
People are being criticised on the internet for not cancelling their travel plans, but I believe there’s no reason to do so, unless you were planning to go to a infected area. Also, I believe there’s nothing shameful for taking advantage of cheap airline tickets and extra holidays if you are considering going on a trip in the following weeks.
I also don’t think it’s necessary for healthy people to wear masks. This is a common sense in the western world, but a lot of people in Asia don’t seem to understand. By stocking up on masks, you are taking them from patients and medical professionals, which doesn’t help slowing down the pandemic at all.
At this moment, I still believe there’s no reason to panic about COVID-19. But again, I would like to stress that I’m not a healthcare professional, and this is only my personal opinion.
Here are a couple videos from medical YouTubers. They are my main sources of COVID-19 information. I highly respect them and would recommend everyone to watch them as well.