Dec 02, 2020 Editorial
Kaieteur News – We are now officially in the month of December. For Guyanese, this has meant, traditionally, the best time of the year. Even in the midst of our multicultural, multi-religious, multiracial social tapestry, the month of Christmas stands out as the period when we are most engaging and most social. From office parties to roadside spontaneous drinking sessions to intimate family gatherings, it is a time when we are most together. Unfortunately, in this era of the most viral and fatal disease in recent history, this is also the time when we are the least socially distanced from each other, the sort of situation that adds greatly to the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
To be fair, COVID-19 is not a word any of us would have been familiar with one year ago. Gaining some traction outside of China around February of this year, Guyana recorded our first coronavirus death on the 11th of March.
Our breaking news story of that, captured the situation in a nutshell:
“Even as elections tension continues to grip the land, the local Ministry of Public Health has confirmed Guyana’s first case of the novel coronavirus [COVID-19]. The victim, a woman said to be in her 50s and suffering from underlying conditions, including diabetes and hypotension, was pronounced dead at the Georgetown Public Hospital [GPHC]. Reports suggest that the woman travelled from New York, United States before March 9, 2020. The case is moreover being viewed as an imported case. The novel coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China during the latter part of last year. The virus which has since expanded its reach to some 50 countries has infected more than 80,000 and more than 3,000 have reportedly died as a result.”
Today, less than a year later, there have been a total of 63.8 million infections globally, and 1.48 million total fatalities. Our one death and one recorded case from March has exploded into a total of over 5,400 cases and 151 deaths, the latest being a six day old infant.
While our growing numbers have not been excessive in terms of per capita infections and deaths, the upcoming Christmas holidays pose a so far unmet challenge in terms of the widespread socializing that comes with the season. The upcoming quagmire with COVID-19 and Christmas underscores how fundamental culture is to every single aspect of development simply because of how powerful a hold culture has on human behaviour, including behaviour that should be drastically changed to protect human life.
As Nietzsche said, “Humankind is a herd animal,” which means that our basic impulse is to socialize, an instinct that is heightened by the celebratory good cheer, communal camaraderie and familial intimacy of Christmas.
The reality is that virtual solutions, the kinds that which have only been partially successful in meeting the challenges COVID-19 has brought to education delivery, will have zero impact in substituting for direct interaction during the upcoming holidays. Every good sense imperative about the need for social distancing and connecting online to safeguard each other will be overridden, in most people, by the very basic human need to seek to connect to loved ones.
Over the next month, as we shop for Christmas decorations and gifts, as we defy already poorly enforced restrictions on curfews and social distancing, as we party with peers and gather with family, at the very least we should do what we can in terms of masks and hygiene. If that minimum, easily achievable standard of caution is not met, our season joy and laughter will easily become a season of sorrow and weeping.
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