Our beloved Mother Earth has gone through a lot this year, and the global COVID-19 or novel coronavirus pandemic––an unanticipated nightmare for humankind––is maybe just a break for her. Our vehicles, new houses, ongoing constructions emit a multitude of pollutants, which cause long-term negative effects. Finally, the majority of harmful human activities have come to a standstill, although this has taken a deadly pandemic of epic proportions.

Earlier this year, bushfires destroyed the dense forests in Australia––many of the unique marsupials were either burnt to death or were severely injured. Pilots volunteered to save the forests: pink water bombs were thrown around, the fire brigade had a 24/7 job, and this helped save the lives of both humans and animals. The fires started before the summers, which meant that their intensity would only increase with time. The lungs of the world were, too, burnt to a great extent.

Now that we are all on lockdown and under the imposition of a curfew, our planet can maybe survive. There are literally no vehicles or people on the roads anymore; I can even hear koyals in Mumbai! The 5 o’clock claps united India by showing respect and gratitude towards all doctors, military services, banks, grocery sellers, newspaper sellers and many other workers trying to keep the nation functioning. As the clock struck five on the day of Janta Curfew, it broke the monotony of silence and made everyone smile.

People, for once, are taking the government seriously. Though this virus is dangerous, there is a silver lining. Out of a population of 7.7 billion people, out of whom 1,274,938 have been infected, 69,498 people have died and 265,883 people have survived as of the latest numbers on April 6. The cases are rising exponentially, but in many countries, we still have a little time. If controlled like it was in China, perhaps the situation could be stopped from worsening.

The challenges India faces are varied and numerous, but fake news is arguably the largest and most insidious. A huge number of messages carrying misleading facts and rumours are circulating widely on WhatsApp, which must be debunked as the masses are especially susceptible to falling into the trap of false information.

For instance, a message that went viral on WhatsApp warned of groups posing as government officials from the Department of Home Affairs looting homes in Tier 2 cities and villages under the pretext of ‘sanitising’ them. This message, a false alert made by manipulating real news stories that took place in Capetown, South Africa, has been debunked by the Times of India fact-checking team here. In order to ensure that the information we receive is accurate and trustworthy before sharing it forward, we must use tools and resources such as Times Fact Check by the Times of India and https://www.altnews.in for India, as well as Reality Check by BBC News and AFP Factcheck for global news.

Besides false stories doing the rounds on social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook, a lot of cures, treatments, medical advice, and home remedies are also being recommended, often by non-medical professionals without any evidence-based data backing them up. Please remember and help your loved ones understand that home remedies and drinking gaumutra cannot help us fight the novel coronavirus (no, there is no conclusive proof that says that garlic can protect us against COVID-19). Further, parcels from China do not necessarily bring the virus with them, but it is a good idea to disinfect all parcels and deliveries. Also, everyone can be in danger, not only children and senior citizens. The only thing that can save us is self-isolation, exercising, and eating foods which increase our immunity.

Denmark is selling one sanitizer for 4,00 € and two of them for 90,00 €; an initiative which teaches people maintaining personal hygiene in these times is important but hoarding essential supplies is uncalled for. Hoarding and panic buying isn’t just selfish, it is also unwise since each individual must have the means to sanitise themselves to prevent community outbreak. We should also stop panicking and hoarding supplies like sanitizers and toilet paper.

Perhaps there is an inkling of truth in the statement, “Maybe coronavirus is the vaccine and us humans are the virus who have created a mess on this planet.”


– Vaasvi Sethia and Namya Kumar, Arya Vidya Mandir, Bandra (West)


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