Media should enlighten and educate people on COVID-19

Since the outbreak of Corona virus, a couple of months back, my family and I have been following the news cautiously. Being old fashioned and too clingy to our old button Nokia phones, my dad and me were content with being updated via different news channels.
On the other hand, mom— being two steps ahead of us in the technological evolutionary ladder— was updated through her smart phone’s WhatsApp messages and the radio too. Every time I walked in to her room, she’d be sipping different yellow concoctions in a transparent mug and make me listen to a voice note that someone had just sent on the benefits of anis or turmeric in beating Corona. However, she stopped following these tips when the messages started recommending eating raw garlic and onion every day.
When the news of Corona arriving here reached us, there was a general concern among the people I know. I even started noticing that whenever I went grocery shopping, people would be wearing different types of masks and ask cleaners to wipe the handle of their shopping carts with sanitisers multiple times. When I shared that with a friend, he demonstrated an application on his phone that tracks the number of corona cases around the world (really cool in a bizarre way).
While meeting my relatives in the weekend, stories were shared about the general panic that was spreading. In a company where my relative worked as a supervisor, one of their employees was off that day which made the rest of employees suspects him contracting the disease (why else would he be off?). There was a sudden panic and when someone suggested that the rest of them would die of corona, the whole office got busy wiping their hands and desk surfaces with alcohol rubs.
As a measure of precaution, someone else suggested that they should pour a bottle of disinfectant around the absentee’s desk and maybe do the same to the toilet cubicle that he used the day before (marking territories the way cats do!). That was the time when the supervisor had to step in and try to contain the situation (a task that took days and hundreds of WhatsApp assuring messages to all concerned parties). The very next day as I sat doing crosswords, dad came in and was in one of his storytelling moods. This time he remembered his grandmother — a wealthy and a charitable woman who always helped the poor. When her old neighbour caught leprosy, she ordered for a tent to be built next to the leprosy colony — not very far from where they lived — and for food to be delivered to her daily, along with alms for the rest of the colony. While my dad went on with his story, I contemplated the difference in dealing with spreading diseases between the old and the modern days: the presence of the media.
Since the start of corona, there has been a great focus on the number of victims but never on the survivors although most cases are mild and similar to that of a normal flu. At times of epidemics, media is expected to act as an educating and enlightening tool and not to spread panic. For example, the concept of self-quarantine is still ambiguous to many. They think it means locking yourself at home and not in a separate room away from others to limit the spread of the disease. I end the article with a quote from a wise friend that was said while discussing the same topic: “the only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.”
The author is a certified skills trainer and the author of The World According to Bahja.
rashabooks@yahoo.com