A Post Truth Era
Two Kinds of Virus
Virus in the Body
Virus in the Mind
The Duty of Governments to Address the Mental Virus
Initial Response of USA to Covid-19
Our Links for our Mindfulness Course in times of Stay-at-Home ruling
PART TWO: WHAT IS
Medical scientists worldwide do not share a common voice about the degree of danger which covid-19 provides to the population. Scientists certainly recognise the seriousness of this pandemic. The vast majority of infected people do make a full recovery. The fact that this is a new strain of the corona virus triggers fears that may inflate the fear of millions of deaths everywhere. The absence of a vaccination for Covid-19 leaves people worried about catching the virus. We trust that the immense effort to find a vaccination bears fruit as soon as possible.
Secondly, the sheer speed of growth of infections has sent alarm through the scientific community. People, who have recovered from the virus, report that the pain from persistent coughing, fever and breathing problems, feels far worse than an ordinary flu.
A further concern needs attention. We live in a society of intense levels of pollution of land, water and air. Poor diet, daily medication, alcohol and tobacco, plus stress and anxiety, have weakened the immune system of a high percentage of the population. The death toll reveals that elderly people remain most vulnerable to the virus. Millions of elderly people will not die from the virus. Their bodies have the resilience to withstand the virus. The elderly need our care and support but we should not jump to the conclusion that age matters more than anything else.
The development of a vaccine is not enough. We have to address lifestyle, pollution and stress to make us fit, strong and capable to handle the majority of viruses.
A diet to strengthen the immune system, exercise and time outdoors to absorb natural light and vitamin D offers some protection from catching the virus. The current government policy in the UK advises people, especially the over 70s, to stay indoors to minimise transference of the virus. Yes, this matters but it only goes part of the way to resolve the health crisis. What we eat matters.
We require massive testing of everybody with symptoms of the virus, as in South Korea. We need to track down the movements of those with the virus. This helps significantly to slow down the virus. Tiny droplets from breathing and coughing pass the virus on. There is no cure. No medicines. No vaccines. Nobody knows when a vaccine will be ready until the completion of all the necessary tests on volunteers.
What strengthens the immune system against a virus? A strong immune system quickens the recovery in case of an infection or even staves it off. We have not been informed of foods to strengthen our immune system.
You do not have to eat animals, birds or fish to strengthen your immune system. Here is a list of foods to give additional strength to the body.
- Bell peppers
- Green tea
- Sunflower seeds
We need to experience the sky above and earth below. This is an immense challenge. Social isolation matters but some time outdoors offer rejuvenation.
There is an opportunity to spend time in the garden or local park or looking through an open window to absorb fresh air, oxygen and sunlight to benefit from vitamin D. Sunlight brings health benefits.
Five areas in daily life matter.
- Healthy diet,
- Stress reduction practices
- Outdoors (even through an open window)
There are two primary symptoms of the coronavirus, namely a dry recurrent cough and the temperature. The virus may incubate in a person for several days before her or she becomes ill. The virus can trigger possible breathing problems. Generally, but not always, children and young adults experience mild symptoms unless they have a weak immune system or asthma.
A major difference between winter flu and coronavirus shows itself in the speed of contraction of the virus with no medication to overcome it. An estimated 600 people die in the UK every year from flu complications.
Antibiotics can only fight off bacteria but not viruses. Covid-19 can survive for days on door handles, cups, mobile phones and other items.
Western nations have often pointed the finger at countries in Africa and Asia as the cause for a virus epidemic or pandemic. We have to learn to take responsibility for our part in these epidemics including obsession with economic growth.
A Post Truth Era
We live in a post truth area. Governments, prime ministers, presidents and politicians have dispensed with the presentation of facts and instead opted to make statements that suit their personal interest. In the post truth world, politicians employ the strategy of blaming others to avoid responsibility.
Elected leaders will make statements which have no bases whatsoever in scientific fact. Governments and scientists cannot possibly predict with any certainty what will happen in the weeks, months or years ahead. They can only infer what they personally think might happen in a specific numbers of days, weeks or months.
With Covid-19, panic began to spread. Shelves in supermarkets were cleaned out of toilet paper, household cleansers, bottled water and soap. Hand sanitizers and other household items were actioned off on eBay at a premium. Supermarkets put up their prices.
As more tests were made, more cases of Corona virus were found. Citizens in some countries have the opportunity to be tested for the virus if they show symptoms. Other countries told those with symptoms to self-quarantine at home. For many, the virus has a mild but painful impact. The significant increases in the daily death rate around the world and those registered with the virus increases public anxiety.
Has media sensationalism and social media promoted hysteria in society? The media report daily on their front pages the numbers of death and people sick from the flu. With no vaccines available in the foreseeable future, anxiety continues to rise as the death toll rises. The difference is huge between covid-19 and getting the flu – Covid-19 is very contagious with no medication, nor vaccine available at present.
Around 40 million of the US population suffers from various kinds of anxiety disorder while around 9 million in the UK have similar disorders. Years of anxiety now lands up concerns about corona virus. Concerns reveal a natural response to events while anxiety consists of accumulations of fears and worries from the past.
Scientists repeatedly state that strong social distancing measurements for everybody in the country would dramatically slow down the rate of growth of the disease and save thousands of lives. There is no need to dispute this. But the fact is not without problems. Two or three people sitting in a car are very close together. The windows are closed. Most households own a car.
Scientists insist on the government putting out a message of urgency rather than being fearful of people getting tired of urgent messages, then followed up with resistance . The government, senior medical advisors and scientists are not psychologists, nor are they prophets. They cannot see into the future. They cannot guarantee their predictions, except in generalities. Research, graphs and computer models can draw summaries but cannot make informed statements about the future because there is no comparable past in terms of available detailed information.
We must not forget that we experience a highly contagious virus which can strike down anybody.
The Stay-at-Home order of the government shows the power of government in times of great emergency. We act in such times for the benefit of ourselves and others. If we can endure the discipline of social isolation for months on end, we can handle a fundamental change in our diet. Stringent action takes much social adjustment but we develop happier and healthier lives through such changes. The stress, anxiety and fears that beset people’s lives owing to sickness or being very overweight would reduce dramatically.
Governments fear that any radical change will backfire upon them. They also fear that they will not be able to force public conformity to the common good. The corporate world spends a huge amount of money on advertising to keep people addicted to the same habitual ways of shopping, whether it is for food, clothes or goods. They will rubbish every radical change because it is not in their interest.
Two Kinds of Virus
We find ourselves faced with dealing with two viruses, not one.
- A virus in the body.
- A virus in the mind.
The body. Both matters equally. A virus consists of an infectious agent, which multiplies within the living cells of a host. Smaller than bacteria, a virus invades cells and reproduces itself. Covid-19 is a particularly contagious virus and very painful for those who contract the virus. Reports speak of high fevers, struggle to breathe, severe weakness in the body and a throat that feels like it is contracted around broken glass.
We can compare the capacity of the virus to spread with a computer virus. A piece of code, this virus copies itself inside a computer, corrupting the system and destroying data with the potential to make it unworkable.
Virus in the Body
Figures from Worldometers reveal the speed of multiplication of the virus. These numbers consist of the number of people confirmed on that date and excludes deaths and those who recovered.
I person infected with Covid-19 on 31 December 2019.
563 people on 22 January 2020
51,596 people on 23 February 2020
196,597 people on 21 March 2020
695, 218 on 1 April 2020
1,049,477 on 7 April 2020
The numbers of people suffering from the virus may well be much higher since numerous people worldwide could not or did not receive any kind of treatment. Absence or overworked hospitals, health care facilities, doctors, nurses, equipment prevent tests. Countries reliant largely on private health insurance stops the poor from receiving treatment while probably many have died from the virus due to a weak immune system without their deaths entering into the record books. We do not know the true scale of this virus. Countries impose strict laws to ensure social isolation. These laws have a growing impact on the state of mind of individuals, couples and families trapped indoors, day and night, except to pop out to buy food and take a walk.
Virus in the Mind
Governments, medical and social scientists, as well as the middle classes and wealthy, do not share the same experience of lockdown (Stay-at-Home) as millions of others. The lawmakers and their advisors often live in a house in a pleasing suburb with several rooms and a garden. They have the finances for online social interaction and can buy consumer goods online to satisfy the needs of anybody in the household.
Covid-19 is not a leveller.
Millions live in very confined spaces – a single room or a couple of rooms. They live in flats, high-rise and low-rise apartments. They may have little or no access to a garden or parks. The police may order people sitting in sitting on the law in a park or park benches or beaches to get up and walk.
Fears and worries about the biological virus contributes to the virus in the mind. Worries about catching the virus and anxiety around money to buy food and pay the bills. Stuck indoors, children get bored and angry and squabble with each other. A single parent or both parents find themselves at boiling point. Parents must use their imagination and find creative ways to love their children. So the children enjoy daily life.
The mental virus will have a long-term impact on the national psyche, even if medical scientists develop a vaccine and other forms of medication/treatment of Covid-19.
The virus in the mind can become an infective agent which multiplies the thoughts of agitation and anger. Pressure at home increases. Those who live alone find themselves against in self-blame, self-hate and self-abuse or negative and hostile projection land on others in same dwelling. Habitual and addictive patterns replicate in negative feelings and hostile thoughts, words and actions. The virus in the mind replicates itself due to social isolation.
The Duty of Governments to address the Mental Virus
Governments fail to address this mental virus. Charities already reveal the warning signs. In the UK, domestic violence has increased 25% since the lockdown. Britain’s largest women’s charity report a 41% increase in requests from women for a place of refuge owing to abuse and violence at home. We are social beings. We are not made for such stringent confinement.
A few love silence and solitude, such as a small minority of Buddhist monks, nuns, yogis, meditators, nature lovers and others. Such people enjoy the absence of a social life but they are few and far between.
In trying to bring an end to the contagious virus, people in authority may well be inadvertently triggering a virus in the mind that replicates harm and damages relationships in the short and long term.
The issue of the virus in the mind requires immediate attention. To support social inter-action, while maintaining a safe distance, the government could provide every citizen with best quality facemasks to wear outdoors. Couples, friends and families can spend time together in parks and on beaches until a vaccine becomes available. The emotional and mental health of people matters equally. People must wear the facemask when communicating directly with others – the family in the park, in a queue at the grocers or a conversation on the street.
Relaxed times out of doors in public places contribute to peace of mind and a capacity to endure the lockdown. Sunshine, space and fresh air contribute to natural resistance to Covid-19. I would add that a range of Mindfulness practices contribute to inner peace, clarity and harmony with others. We need the government to encourage practical support, such as mindfulness exercises, tip and methods for those stuck indoors.
We can get caught up in conspiracy theories found in social media. Irresponsible theories increase fear and blame and add to the rage simmering in many people. These are some of the most common distasteful theories prevalent in these days. Conspiracy theories seek scapegoats for major catastrophes.
There is enough suffering already without taking up groundless views and promoting them on social media or in conversations with family, friends and strangers. Here are nine ugly theories doing the rounds.
- 5G masts built in Wuhan, China in November 2019 weakened immune system of everybody.
- Introduced to reduce the ageing population who slow down economic growth.
- USA military planted the virus in China to slow down China’s rate of production.
- A scam – just another flu.
- Dictators, elected or not, want to control entire populations.
- Powerful leaders and billionaires want to encourage panic buying from big corporations.
- Governments want to create massive unemployment so people will work in future for slave wages.
- To make a massive increase in taxation
- To reduce the global population by two billion.
Initial Response of USA to Covid-19
The response from the USA has been far slower than the response from China, Korea, Iran and Italy. President Trump turned down the offer of German made diagnostic tests for the virus. These tests were approved by the World Health Organisation.
The German company shipped 1.4 million of these tests to the WHO, who promptly shipped the tests around the world. In the USA, fewer than 4,000 tests from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention were used out of more 160,000 produced and shipped around the country. USA experienced manufacturing and design problems in its own diagnostic tests. They were unusable and unreliable. Meanwhile countless numbers in the USA contracted the virus. The virus has now spread like a raging fire out of control.
Hospitals around the country were pleading with the government and CDC for trustworthy tests to little avail.
Stay-at-Home orders now apply to one in three Americans.
Different states have different guidelines. This means that people can travel from one state to another with the virus including states who have issued a Stay-at-Home order. Central government has failed to take charge of situation to protect as many of its 327 million citizens as possible through giving direct orders to the whole country.
In February. 2020, the President told the country that the virus was a” democratic hoax.” He claimed the virus was “very much under control” and infections were “going very substantially down, not up”. On 26 February, he claimed total cases will be “close to zero.” “Just stay calm. It will go away,” he told citizens. Members of the Republican Party remained mute. Far too many Democrats sat on the fence.
The President claimed anyone who need a coronavirus test could get one. Every hospital and clinic in the country knew the US spoke out of the other end of his body. He announced a 30-day travel bans to keep out the “foreign virus” and referred to the “Chinese virus.”
Political leaders can put out opinions utter different from the scientific analysis. It is a way of overshadowing scientific information rather than censoring it. This leaves public confusion in the USA. US citizens give immense deference to the President of the United States – somewhat similar to what the UK shows to the Queen of England. Right wing politics has rejected scientific knowledge and replaced it with political argument and substituted facts for falsehoods.
USA has no idea whatsoever of the size of the pandemic in the country. The country is no different from numerous other countries. The failure to have massive testing as early as possible to find out the infected people and isolate has led to terrible consequences. There was no opportunity to contain the outbreak and slow down the devasting impact on Americans.
South Korea tested 130 times as many citizens per capita as America. The USA turned out to be the last in line ordering safe kits for testing.
The British government announced that only those in hospital would be tested. Anyone who had the symptoms should Stay-at-Home and self-isolate for a week without notifying the NHS. People with the symptoms cannot speak directly to an NHS person on 111 telephone line and must complete online forms. People need support and personal advice but too little was available
Accumulated stress makes it more difficult to deal with a major disruption to daily life. Trapped at home, there is a probability of increased tension, arguments and domestic violence. People living alone could start to feel desperate. Their thoughts can haunt them through being housebound most or all the time. There will be emergency situations not directly due to the virus but to the reactivity of interpersonal and personal issues. We must find ways quickly to take care of our beloved citizens.
We need to take care of our daily input of news Covid-19 and addiction to updates. A 15-minute check per day on a reliable news channel would cover everything that one would need to know.
In terms of stress, we often pursue reassurance from others to help us handle events. Words of empathy matter. Such words give support but we also must be mindful not to repeat stories and information that increases anxiety. We can also get lost in self-pity and worry about others.
There is life outside the virus. Fears and other internal pressures trigger unhelpful thinking which supports fake news of the past, present and future.
We need to remember to take one day at a time with consideration for the welfare of others as much as ourselves. The confinement to home for a growing number of the world’s population presents an enormous challenge to individuals, couples and families. Kindness and empathy matters throughout life. Tensions can arise at home, at work and for those engaged in long hours of service in our hospitals and clinics.
People say things unfair, unkind and nasty. We practise to remember that this is what the person says today. Their outbursts of personal attacks and blame only confirm their stress. Despite their rage, let us practise to let the words in one ear and straight out the other so we do not give such speech, emails or texts the authority to land deep in our being.
We can explore mindful ways to ensure we do not react angrily to another’s anger. Non-anger expresses a wise response.
Our capacity in these days of stress and tension to accommodate circumstances at home and elsewhere confirm our integrity and dignity.
Let us remember such points from one day to the next.
For Your Interest
A Free Online Course with 38 short videos in times of Stay-at-Home . Christopher and Ulla Koenig
Our Mindfulness Course offers a wide range of mindfulness practices and reflections to support you in the challenging days, weeks and months ahead. There are two ways to join the Course (click on the link):
- Our MTC Online Platform (https://mtc.thinkific.com/)
- Youtube – Dharma Channel Christopher Titmuss (link to Youtube) or cllick
/ www.youtube.com/ playlist?list=PLxTieP-L4Rg1TlKkpgNhwwS-0bxfaYErP