Coronavirus – Threat To Human Life or Humanity?

Coronavirus – Threat To Human Life or Humanity?

Coronavirus, referred to as COVID-19, has caused a serious atmosphere of panic and chaos across the world. Not only has it caused deaths in some countries, it also has proven its contagious nature by spreading from one nation to another. According to the official report of World Health Organization (WHO), there have been 80,981 cases in total till 13 March 2020 whereas the death toll is around 3,173 in various regions of China. There have been 50,770 cases of the same worldwide, causing deaths of 1,750 people. On 11 March 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 as a pandemic since it had spread throughout the world with its life taking symptoms of respiratory problems.

“This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, at a media briefing. “So every sector and every individual must be involved in the fights.”

In Pakistan, the tally of confirmed cases is reported to be 21; 15 in Sindh, 5 in Gilgit Baltistan and 1 in Balochistan. To control the spread of the virus, the Sindh government preponed summer vacations for educational institutions across the province. Schools and universities will now remain closed till May 31. Examinations for grade nine and ten have been postponed. Educational institutions had been closed in the province since February 27, after Pakistan’s first coronavirus case was confirmed in Karachi. The provincial government also made the decision to hold the remaining Pakistan Super League (PSL) cricket matches in Karachi in an empty stadium without spectators, though Thursday’s match was held as per schedule at National Stadium, Karachi.

Notwithstanding the dangerous spread of the disease, there has also been a display of racism and xenophobia towards East Asians which shows the ugly side of humanity, for example, US Republican McCarthy recently shared a racist tweet where he referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus”:

“Everything you need to know about the Chinese coronavirus can be found on one, regularly-updated website…”

This got him trending and many people chimed in with their views. Some favoured it while most condemned the harsh attitude towards China.

Another racist/anti-Asian story is that of a 23-year-old East Asian student, Jonathan Mok, who shared details on social media about how he was allegedly attacked while walking down Oxford Street in Central London on February 24. He told the BBC that a group of four men told him “…we don’t want your Coronavirus in our country” as they punched and kicked him. He shared that he might need an operation on a broken bone near his right eye as a consequence of the attack. He even attached photos of his injuries on social media and gained a lot of sympathy from people around the world. Such disgusting actions make us realize how we we have lost faith in one another and how such threats have become a greater force than the one that binds all humans together i.e. humanity.

The Pakistani humanity also witnessed the worst case scenario of prices of clinical protection masks being elevated right after the confirmation of 2 reported cases of coronavirus. It had to be the cruelest action against such a sensitive situation faced by the nation. A medical store owner told a news outlet that a box of ordinary surgical masks which would have ordinarily cost somewhere around PKR 300 was being sold for more than PKR 2,000. The prices of hand sanitizers and liquid soaps have also elevated in no time. Even the laboratory test to detect coronavirus is said to be around PKR 10,000 which is obviously unaffordable by the underprivileged. ‘Big pharma’ has decided to deprive the destitute in the most inhumane way possible and we still wonder why the virus it spreading when citizens should be standing in solidarity to face an existential threat.

In many countries, people have also started bulk-buying groceries and hoarding toiletries while leaving nothing in the shops for the elderly.

Such actions by human beings make us lose faith in humanity. We only seem to care about our individual selves and our business bottom lines. Instead of supporting each other, we are harming each other and depriving those who are already suffering. No matter how big a threat COVID-19 is to people, it seems to have been a great threat to humanity.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of or any other organization with which she might be associated.

Neelam Khatian

Author: Neelam Khatian

The writer is a Barrister-at-Law.

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