The sacrifice of logic and rational analysis that is creeping into the national approach to the pandemic flashed into my mind yesterday when I was listening to the new declaration that one of the definite symptoms of covid19 just discovered is a loss of taste and smell.
Like everything else told to us with great authority about covid19, except that science does not really know very much about it, I am confused about the "new" revelation that there has been noticed a loss of smell and taste among covid victims, in particular those over 70. I know that elderly people – those over 60, for example (although that is not actually regarded as elderly any more, since 60 is the new 40, I have been authoritatively told by a young 60-year-old athlete) – almost routinely notice a diminished sense of taste and smell.
There are even names for it: anosmia for the loss of smell and ageusia for loss of taste. I looked it up and Dr Google said it was a natural result of ageing and was often the reason why people used more sugar, salt and pepper sauce as they got older.
But why is everything that ails human beings now blamed on the coronavirus?
The solemn revelation of the high proportion of people over 80 in homes for the aged in Britain who are dying, for example: wasn’t there always a high death rate among people over 80 everywhere? Do any people living in those homes not suffer the “slings and arrows” of old age and by longevity end there?
The majority of covid deaths come through pulmonary congestion, no? Isn’t that what used to be called pneumonia? The old man’s angel that brought them release from suffering? His name was Azrael.
In Shakespeare’s time it was accepted that everyone would die sometime. Didn’t he say something to the effect that “death, a necessary end, will come when it will come?” Did they keep a social distance from the elderly with pneumonia? I do not know. Maybe they did, because they thought that old age was catching.
Everyone gets it sooner or later, not just the eight per cent whodie from the virus.
The revelation that people with covid19 show a deficiency of vitamin D is another. As far as I know, for hundreds of years mothers have been telling their children to "go out and get some sun” when they come down with the common cold or the flu. That is where we get our vitamin D from: sun on skin.
Is that why in countries where people cannot avoid sun on their skin, cases of covid19 tend to be mild? If so, it may not be entirely rational to continue to block people from going to beaches – another built-in advantage of living in TT that we are not now taking advantage of.
I have not had an explanation for this. Have you?
Except for people who are over 70, suffering from Alzheimer’s, living in homes for the elderly and who have diabetes, heart diseases or other chronic, non-communicable diseases, it seems then that we are mainly in the medium-to-low risk groups.
So if no public servants are in the high-risk group, as they all retire before 70, none have Alzheimer’s or are in care homes and those already ill are on sick leave, why were they all sent home? And remained there after construction workers were allowed to go back to work?
You see why I get confused?
Covid19 is a disease that results in pulmonary respiration failure, or so I am told. Like Mr Trump, I am not a doctor. But if what I am told is true, why is it that among the first businesses allowed to reopen in TT is one that manufactures cigarettes? And why are care workers who look after frail and lonely elderly people not allowed to go back to work?
And if people under 17 are among the least likely to be affected by the virus (except those with pre-existing conditions who are easily identifiable and are likely to be under medical care anyway), why are all the healthy ones not allowed to go to school?
And why, if the ministry can spend millions of dollars on food for the electorate, can’t it spend one or two of those millions on testing equipment to certify that the majority of people, especially teachers, who, the anonymous "science” experts quoted daily but never identified tell us, if they are non-infectious, can then go back to work and earn a livelihood?
This would enable thousands of single mothers, who are always the hardest hit, personal care workers, hairdressers, manicurists, domestic helpers, marchands, an army of the lowest paid not on the government’s list for relief because they never qualified to be on one in the first place, falling outside the diameter of NIS and Inland Revenue remits to support their children without begging.
I have great admiration for what the government has been able to do, perhaps without knowing that it would happen. That it has shown to the world that we are by and large a disciplined and socially conscious people, close enough to show that we can be on the top of the Oxford/Stanford list of countries not spreading covid19, is a miracle in itself that is changing even our own self-knowledge and self-image of what we are and what we can be as a people.
Yes. Corruption still goes on. Murders still take place. People still litter the streets, steal water and electricity and occupy lands that are not theirs. This is not a perfect culture, but it deserves to be treated with logic and rationality in dealing with a problem that affects the world, not just the application of power for the sake of power without assigning cause.