Politics in the time of corona

James Chai


COMMENT | This virus could doom us. Other than terrorism and all-out military warfare, an influenza pandemic like coronavirus has catastrophic consequences of taking millions of lives.

But none of us would believe it.

Unlike a military war, a virus has no human dimension. Our eyes cannot see what a coronavirus is – and we only believe what we can see. There are no missiles that could pierce through our lungs; there are only microbes. Though the number of infections and deaths are increasing at an alarming rate, we are not bothered. What is not seen is not real; this too shall pass like a bad dream.

We continued going to work, travelled to meet friends, and maintained our filthy ways. How could a small, invisible, undetectable virus change our grand, superior, well-prepared plans?

History wouldn’t scare us. Not the Spanish flu of 1920 that killed more than 50 million; not the Black Death of 1360 that killed more than 25 million; not the Asian flu of 1957 that killed more than two million; not even the H1N1of 2009 could scare us.

In the legendary novel, The Plague, Albert Camus described this human stubbornness in the face of a virus. The people thought it was “impossible” that a virus could get to them, even when a quarter of the city has already perished from it...

Share this story


By posting a comment, you agree to our Terms & Conditions as stipulated in full here


Foul language, profanity, vulgarity, slanderous, personal attack, threatening, sexually-orientated comments or the use of any method of communication that may violate any law or create needless unpleasantness will not be tolerated. Antisocial behaviour such as "spamming" and "trolling" will be suspended. Violators run the risk of also being blocked permanently.


Please use the report feature that is available below each comment to flag offending comments for our moderators to take action. Do not take matters in your own hands to avoid unpleasant and unnecessary exchanges that may result in your own suspension or ban.