Total Confinement

By Nita Chicooree-Mercier

May we remind the authorities that total confinement in China implied that no one was allowed to venture out of their homes after a few days of authorizing citizens to go out and do their shopping during restricted hours with masks and gloves? Henceforth, the shopping list was ordered and payment was made online, and items were delivered by young volunteers of the Communist Party at citizens’ doorsteps. Confinement in 60 to 70 square metres is no doubt an ordeal with short-term pain – but was necessary. After nearly three months, a few dozen cases are still being recorded in Beijing and Shanghai.

“Total confinement in China implied that no one was allowed to venture out of their homes after a few days of authorizing citizens to go out and do their shopping during restricted hours with masks and gloves? Henceforth, the shopping list was ordered and payment was made online, and items were delivered by young volunteers of the Communist Party at citizens’ doorsteps. Confinement in 60 to 70 square metres is no doubt an ordeal with short-term pain – but was necessary…”


Most countries are not equipped with an army of Communist volunteers to effectively carry out the authorities’ national policy. But still, there are other ways to put in place an effective organization in times of national crisis. Neither is online shopping with supermarkets located at 100 metres away from homes a common practice.

On Thursday, news of infected cases caught citizens by surprise in Mauritius, and not everyone has gloves and masks to protect themselves in public places. Strict measures forbidding relatives to go to the airport, and the latest decision to take deceased patients directly to the crematory or cemetery are indeed necessary.

Press conferences held by the government aim to sensitize the public on the serious threat to public health caused by the deadly virus. The next step to put off irresponsible elements not abiding by the regulations is to tell the whole truth to the public: how ‘stable’ conditions deteriorate after nine days to a point of no return; how the unlucky ones are killed by the virus; how it multiplies by millions in the body, launches a deadly attack on the lungs and stifles a patient till the heart gives in. The trajectory of millions of viruses feasting on the human body till they stop the pulse from beating can be best illustrated with a drawing of the anatomy and shown during prime time news on television. Negative tests which might turn out to be positive after a second testing is an important piece of information as well.

Analyst and original thinker Nassim Nicholas Taleb opines that it is better to panic than not to panic just in case you might be right in panicking in a given situation one day.

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Struggle for survival

The deplorable incident in the Czech Republic, where more than 400,000 items of medical equipment in a planeload of 800,000 from China heading to Italy went missing and were said to have been diverted and sold away by unscrupulous individuals, is indicative of worse possible scenarios imagined in extreme cases when the very essence of humanity is put to test. Not an ounce of empathy for Italian citizens who are dying at an incredibly fast pace every day. Italy is among the core members of the European Union which give away a high percentage of their national budget to the construction of the Union, by empowering new members and building modern infrastructure in the new member states from among the former Soviet Bloc of Eastern Europe, of which the Czech Republic is a beneficiary.

Some time back, whereas other European countries refused, Italy allowed a plane from China to land on its territory. Paying a deadly price for misplaced indulgence?

It shows how individualist selfish interests overweigh all other considerations of moral principles in times of great anxiety and fear for the life of the population of a country. Why, it is even envisaged that an end-of-the world scenario might result in cannibalism, people eating people. In the light of the terrible scenario, raiding supermarkets and overstocking foodstuffs in one’s home might sound only irresponsible for the time being.

Objectification of animals

How men view themselves in relation to nature around and other beings largely depended on several factors, climate and cultural conditions. The West and the Middle East inherited a tradition influenced by scriptures that place men at the top of the pyramid of beings, women lagging far behind, and animals at the lowest rung of the ladder which men can domesticate, dominate and use at their will. Hence the idea of superiority of men over all beings.

In ancient traditions in Africa, India and native tribes in the American continent, men are part of Nature, part of nature’s chain of beings. Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote that in the chain of beings, men are superior only in their capacity for compassion for other beings.

While domestication cuts across countries and cultures since times immemorial, the use of animals for consumption varies according to cultures. By now, the methods applied in the industrial production of meat for mass consumption are well documented – how pigs and geese are force-fed with water blended with other stuffs, in what conditions cows are made to produce milk, cattle are slaughtered and all parts of their body are cut out for sale, and sheep selected to be killed for tender lamb meat, and small live chickens crushed by machines and thrown in garbage. Animal food to herbivorous animals for greater profits led to the ‘mad cow disease’ in Britain.

The treatment of animals like objects knows no bounds. Wild animals are also imported and consumed to fight against sexual impotence in a few far eastern Asian countries. The pangolin, a sweet-looking prehistoric animal is considered as sacred in some African countries, and is mercilessly butchered in other parts of Africa for local consumption, and for a high percentage of export to China and Vietnam where it is widely used to cure impotence. It happens to be put on sale with meat of other wild animals like the civet in open air markets in Hubei province, and it is presumed this practice may have led to the emergence of the virus.

Men still belong to the animal kingdom. Is it the message sent by the merciless attack launched by the genes of wild animals?


* Published in print edition on 27 March 2020

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