Some are fighting. Some are giving up.
Days after Italy expanded its quarantine measures to combat coronavirus, Spain followed suit, as did several other countries on different scales. They told everyone to stay indoors. Schools, restaurants and bars are closed. Sporting events are postponed or canceled, and pilgrimages suspended.
As the first country to implement unprecedented containment, China is in the best place to explain the necessary pains and what is surrender.
Just over 40 percent of isolated Chinese reported anxiety and depression while under lockdown. Real pains. But they were a must. After an explosion in cases followed by weeks of strict control measures, the virus is losing ground in China.
People in many cities are cautiously returning to work. The first batch of medical staff from other provinces are leaving Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, for home. The focus now is on imported cases.
What made it happen? There was a government-people consensus and an unyielding will to stop transmission with national mobilization and assistance to save lives. People found ways to overcome mental suffering. Those at home and patients with mild symptoms in makeshift hospitals entertained themselves by reading books, reciting poems, practicing martial arts and dancing.
Now, the sociable Italians and Spaniards have turned their balconies into concert halls to comfort and encourage each other—a silver lining in the darkest of times.
However, all these efforts could be overshadowed if countries are not on the same page.
The dark side of the picture is reluctance and an unwillingness to practice social distancing. Some still gather in public. Some reject face masks as unnecessary. Marathons were held in some cities. Politicians are busy campaigning. Others reject quarantine citing individual rights or claiming there's no need. We've seen the risks downplayed as a low death rate is cited to excuse negligence and inaction.
Some government officials are flirting with the unethical idea of letting the virus pass through the entire population to acquire the so-called 'herd immunity', which is gambling with millions of lives.
Here we have two options. One is temporarily sacrificing some individual rights to help save lives. The other is surrender by sacrificing lives.
We are not in some sort of dystopian "Hunger Games" plot where only the fittest can survive. It's not the law of the jungle. In tough battles like this, pains are necessary at the expense of some rights and freedom to ensure that our destiny and lives stay out of the hands of an indiscriminate virus.
PHOTO: A patient in a biocontainment unit is carried on a stretcher at the Columbus Covid 2 Hospital in Rome, Monday, March 16, 2020. [Photo: AP]
Note: Zhao Ying is a journalist with China Plus. The article reflects the author's own views.