Akeel Rashid

PANIC BUYING, RUMOR-MONGERING AND DEFYING VIRUS RULES: We can’t afford such stupidity right now

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The Kashmir region is beginning to grapple with the struggle to contain the spread of deadly coronavirus disease following the confirmation of the first positive case in old town Srinagar. Soon after J&K administration confirmed that a lady from Khanyar had tested positive, the social media was flooded with deep concerns. The late-night announcement came as a shock to people and set off a chain of reactions on social media. The following day, the concerns and reactions shifted from social media and manifested physically with Hospital OPDs, departmental stores, shops, petrol pumps and ATMs witnessing a huge rush of people. In Srinagar city, the hoarders were seen clearing some shelves of grocery stores.

It doesn’t stop there. Reports emerging from some villages suggest that people are preparing to hold religious feasts in the belief that it would eradicate the coronavirus disease from Kashmir. There is no denying the fact that organizing religious feasts would lead to mass gatherings and thereof increasing the chances of people contracting common flu if not coronavirus. Fever, cough, sore throat, aches and pains are said to be the symptoms of the coronavirus, but at the same time, these symptoms are similar to those of the seasonal flu. The situation with regard to COVID-19 is such that medical scientists are still struggling to assert the exact symptoms of the novel coronavirus; besides, solid and reliable information regarding the disease has become a take-it-where-you-can-get-it situation. So, experiencing such symptoms can be the worst nightmare for anyone and prompt unnecessary visits to hospitals.

Also Read: To be blunt: World, for now, is helpless in the face of Coronavirus

Before going further, I want to clear one thing here that I am not qualified enough to talk on religious matters but by way of initial explainers coming from Muslim countries like Kuwait and UAE, I am seeking to drive the point home.

According to The Guardian, A muezzin in Kuwait was heard saying ‘al-salatu fi buyutikum’ or ‘pray in your homes’ instead of the usual ‘hayya alas-salah’ or ‘come to prayer’. “This step was taken as a precautionary measure for the safety of the citizens of Kuwait.” Dr. Abdullah Al Sanad country’s health spokesperson said that this measure has helped a lot in preventing the local spread of the virus.

Similarly, according to the Khaleej Times, residents in the UAE woke up to an Azan (Islamic call for prayer) that featured additional words. “The words ‘pray at home’ rang through speakers of mosques across the country. The phrase was repeated twice.”

“The Congregational prayers in UAE were suspended at all places of worship as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19. The suspension will remain in effect for four weeks and applies to Friday sermons and prayers at mosques,” reported Khaleej Times. The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (GAIAE) said late on Monday: “At mosques, only the Azan (call for prayer) will be given out to alert worshippers about prayer times. Mosque doors will remain closed.”

How can you help during coronavirus situation?

Taking a cue from the countries which are battling the COVID-19, slew of measures – based on global standard operating procedure – have been already taken with regard to its containment in Jammu and Kashmir. People need to follow these measures in letter and spirit and encourage others to do the same. How Chinese responded to the outbreak of the coronavirus turned out to be sufficiently effective as the most populous country with nearly 1.4 billion residents reached a “Coronavirus Milestone” on Thursday as it reported no new local infections. The World Health Organization has praised the response of China as a global model. We should follow the suit.

The COVID-19 challenge is already keeping the J&K administration on its toes. It should be our responsibility to maintain the discipline rather than that of the administration to enforce it as this added responsibility is a burden for those at the forefront of coronavirus preparedness.

While we feel comfortable and safe at our respective homes, we should not forget those fighting the battle, directly or indirectly, against COVID-19. Let’s pour love and strength into them.

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