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Disease kills the cowards

Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

FEAR of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has rendered many to panic and yield to its phobia, leading them to exaggerate in everything and prompting half of the planet to follow procedures that amounted to the isolation of countries, cities and even communities and people.

This has reached the extent of the Panamanian government issuing an order as per which men and women should alternate in leaving their homes. In other words, today the men will go out, tomorrow the women.

Is this phobia appropriate? How will the world look after a few months? According to all medical studies and opinions, mankind has to coexist with the virus which will undoubtedly cause flu just like any other seasonal flu. Epidemics have been happened in the world for hundreds of years.

Perhaps we will find the answer in this regard from Ibn Sina (Avicenna). He was a Persian polymath who was regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age, as well as the father of early modern medicine.

About 1,000 years ago, Ibn Sina said, “The disease kills the cowards”. At that time he was talking about the plague, which he referred as the “Black Death”, that had struck the land that is now known as Uzbekistan.

At that time, he said this plague can be transmitted from to one individual to 100 individuals, and stressed on the need for self-isolation, which we currently refer as self-quarantine.

However, he also insisted on living a normal life with optimism and joyfulness, not with fear, panic and phobia.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic few months ago, the world yielded to fear and panic due to the fact that an invisible virus has locked them in a nightmare, not only socially but also financially and economically, as financial markets have lost about $14 trillion so far, a number that continue to increase, due to the fear factor.

We had said on previous occasions that the world experiences such devastating outbreak once every century, causing huge human loss, and with some claiming tens of millions of lives. Eventually, life has to move on. It has become clear from this pandemic today that people have not learned from the past lessons.

In this regard, we reiterate what the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared, which is, “This is the only pandemic that we can control”. Such a declaration by WHO brings glad tidings to humanity, but only if we let go of our fear and think with a composed mind.

It is true that precautionary measures are necessary. Urging people to stay at home is a key measure to prevent its spread. However, this is not enough; in fact, it will only complicate the matter, especially with the sharp decline in income, and the impact of the need that has thrown millions of families around the world into destitute. As a result, many other social problems arise. Recent reports indicate that there is a significant surge in divorce rates due to quarantine.

The media is overflowing with news about COVID-19 and its risks. Therefore, we ask – Isn’t there an exit from this empty circle? For how long can countries continue under the pressure of fear?

If we take Ibn Sina’s saying “The disease kills only the cowards” into consideration, then we must confront it not only with preventive measures, but also with a serious search for safe exits to confront this pandemic, which seems to kill more by fear than by infection with the virus.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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