The COVID-19 Pandemic: Denial, Death and Destruction.

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Denial does not change reality for everyone else. Only for the one denying and those who are foolish enough to believe the fantasy.

Elle Casey

Denial and inactivity prepare people well for the roles of victim and corpse.     

John Leach

The two quotes above, simply summarise the obvious reality facing the world as we battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has become the single most challenging health catastrophe facing the world today. From millions of infections, thousands of deaths, to trillions in economic losses and global joblessness, our social lives have been drastically altered in imaginable ways. The pandemic has harshly laid bare the obvious vulnerability in life. Yet, despite all these obvious realities, some leaders have chosen – either out of personal or ideological gains or even mere heartlessness – to become economical with the truth about the danger posed by the COVID-19. The result: the credulous minds have become the obvious victims of the leaders’ denial and inactivity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to skyrocketed death tolls and uncontrollable economic meltdown.  

Nowhere reflects this sad situation more than in the United States, Brazil, Ecuador, Tanzania, Belarus, Mexico, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Cambodia etc

“No one will die of Coronavirus in our country. I publicly declare this,” President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus said.

“Corona is the devil and it cannot survive in the body of Jesus. It will burn.” Tanzanian President John Magufuli told a church service in late March.

Kim Jong-un of North Korea has on his part, claimed his Asian country is a virus-free haven.

Mr Hun Sen of Cambodia threatened to throw out any journalist wearing a face mask during a news briefing in his country. “The Prime Minister doesn’t wear a mask, so why do you? What is more terrible than the epidemic is the panic itself.” He warned angrily.

“If you’re able and have the means to do so, continue taking your family out to eat. That strengthens the economy.” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador advised Mexicans.

Accepted, many developing countries, especially, those in Africa, cannot afford to leave their economies in a total lockdown, however, at least, acknowledging the existence of the COVID-19 and the danger it poses, as well as taking certain steps to curtail the spread of the virus, will go a long way in helping those vulnerable economies to avoid descending into complete devastation. Denial is only counter-productive.

While President Donald Trump’s top health advisers are judiciously busy conjuring up all the medical abracadabra in their arsenal to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus, the President, on the other hand, is recklessly denying the seriousness of the pandemic and encouraging his gullible supporters to ignore the advice of the health experts and rather following his politically-motivated advice. Sadly, what President Trump has refused to tell his zealot supporters is that his denials of the realities surrounding the virus and his refusal to listen to the advice of his health experts are driven by his selfish political survival. 

With more than 120,000 deaths from the Coronavirus and 14.7% unemployment rate, a worrisome 42.6 million jobless claims have been filled by Americans since the start of the Coronavirus shutdowns. While experts insist the discouraging figures present a huge, dangerous signal, which has exposed the USA to the worst domestic crisis in decades, President Trump is ignoring the devastating surge in cases and deaths. He rather uses the pandemic as a weapon to bash out racist demagogy, dichotomy and divisiveness. Ever heard of China virus? What about Wuhan virus? Let’s try “Kung Flu”? Can one expect such undignified rhetoric from the office of the President of the United States of America, talk less from the President himself, who is supposedly the quintessential embodiment of what American decency, unity in diversity, democracy and respect for the rule of law should be? Your guess is as good as mine. If anything, this carefully calculated political chess game only helps broaden the existing division and creates distrust among the US citizens. But does President Trump care, as far as his racist punchline produces the desired effects? Well, for a President who shockingly admitted during a recent rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma that he had instructed his administration officials to minimize coronavirus testing because of the increasing number of cases in the US, hardly would one worry about Trump’s divisive ability, motive and commitment. Some have called his handling of the pandemic total political mismanagement; others have accused him of lacking any coherent national strategy in the face of the crisis. Yet many see in Trump an autocratic and undemocratic selfish leader, who is not only allergic to criticism but he will as well go to any extent to achieve his aggrandisement. Regardless what your impression of President Trump is, the one thing stands out: his actions leave one wondering whether he understands the urgency and dire situation facing his country as it battles the COVID-19. More than that, it makes one question President Trump’s commitment to the lives and well-being of his subjects. Is he using Americans – and particularly, his supporters – as a political chess game? 

Of course, racist bashing and denial of the realities surrounding the Coronavirus can only be effective when the consumers of the derogatory discourse would prefer to live in denial rather than face the reality around them. Sadly, we often forget that being in denial is never a solution to any problem for anyone, or at any time, rather, it postpones the problem, which would lead to more destruction. Unlike the European and other leaders that quickly accepted the existence of the Coronavirus and the harsh challenges that come with it, President Trump, on the other hand, preferred the denial route. When that did not produce enough effective results, he switched over to the blaming tricks. Now, back to denial, racist labelling and divisiveness seem to be his latest political weapon to keep his gullible supporters in check. 

Hear Mr Trump: The disease is “fading” and “dying out ….we’re now seeing a disturbing surge of infections.” 

“By having more tests, we have more cases,” he added.

Call it denial. Confusion? Contradiction. One of the many lies from Mr Trump. Whatever.

The result: although the pandemic is gradually coming under control with infections and deaths decreasing in those countries where their leaders have been open and decisive in the handling of the virus, in the USA, Brazil, many other countries in Africa, Asia and South America, where leaders prefer denial route, we see a depressing increase in the corona-related deaths and devastations. 

While top health officials recommend more testing, social distancing, longer lockdown etc., President Trump is doing the opposite. Churches, the mosque (sure, he loves those Muslim brothers and sisters), schools, restaurants must open. Political rallies must kick-off, with or without a face mask, the obedience of social distancing becomes less important as far as one achieves their political objectives. We see the same denial and ignoring medical advice in many countries. Burundi, Malawi went to the poll amidst the pandemic, Tanzanian leader encouraged his people to go on with their daily routine because, according to him, God has heard the prayers of Tanzanians and taken away the virus (oh was the virus there?). Brazil? President Jair Bolsonaro, the South American Mr Trump, is another interesting topic that would make the bestseller – especially in the face of thousands of the Corona-related deaths daily in Brazil. Despite the mountainous death tolls, Jair Bolsonaro still lives in denial. Nor has he agreed to wear a mask in public. Just like his godfather President Trump.

 The frustration of well-meaning individuals can be great. It is understandable. Forget about political ideology or party line and face reality. Although some Republicans are quick to follow President Trump’s line, others Republicans are less enthusiastic with the president’s actions. While Texas is recording a new single-day record of 5,489 new infections, the Republican governor of the state Gov. Greg Abbott, a key Trump ally, defile Trump’s denial and warned Monday that daily positive cases, hospitalizations, and death require urgent and serious actions. 

“If we were to experience another doubling of those numbers over the next month, that would mean that we are in an urgent situation where tougher actions will be required to make sure that we do contain the spread of Covid-19,” Greg Abbott warned.

Is President Trump listening? You tell me.

One can imagine the frustration of the likes of Dr Anthony Fauci, the USA top infectious diseases specialist, Dr Deborah Birx, the White House Corona co-ordinator and other health experts, whose professional and science-based advice have been enormously ignored by leaders like Mr Trump who would rather take denial approach. Worse still, it can be deeply devastating when those leaders prefer to listen to non-scientists instead, simply because the latter has on many occasions displayed sycophancy, an intoxicating tonic that calms President Trump’s arrogant soul and those of his likes. Sadly, in most cases, such leaders are a bunch of narcissists.

Often when you are in denial of a situation, you are indifferent to it. Sadly, living in denial only makes it extremely hard for one to accept the truth and that refusal to accept the truth means one’s inability to face the obvious. Denial is not a sign of power and strength; it is, rather, a manifestation of weakness and insecurity. To some, the easiest way to “solve” a problem is to deny it exists. But the denial of the existence, hardly means it does not exist; rather it only leads to the precipice of destruction. Welcome to the COVID-19 pandemic world.