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It strikes me that, what with one thing after the other, we have been immersed for years now in such a fragile atmosphere it’s hard to know if we’re coming or going. First we had the shocks of Trump and BREXIT – BREXIT dragging on since 2016 – and, though it might not occupy the news cycle very much now, we know the worst of it is yet to come. And then of a sudden we have the Covid-19 virus, and the news-media bent daily on stoking our worst fears.

So, a brainless virus in a market-place in China mutates to such startling perfection it is half way round the world before we can even blink. And we, with all our superior faculties cannot even keep our poor from dying of cold and hunger – well, we can, we just don’t. Why not? Because we are liars and worse, we are suckers for one damned liar after the other. Perhaps that’s why Covid-19 leaves us trembling at its brutal honesty. It is the one genuine article in a world now otherwise enamoured of fakery.

Ahead of the virus making any significant landfall in the west, we find surgical masks are already selling out, and the prices going up. Hospitals are running out of them as the public takes ad-hoc precautions they might have seen on TV, yet which experts tell us are ineffective outside of a clinical setting. My local chemist has even run out of gel-based hand-wash, and is unable to restock. Share indices are plummeting. Airlines are cancelling not just flights, but entire routes.

We are driven by rumour, victim to the daily dose of media hysteria, which is less about genuine public information and more about playing to outrage and fear. We are victim also to our social media where any fool can appoint themselves a pundit, spreading falsehood, both inadvertently and cynically. Cybercriminals have spied an opportunity too and are spamming us with Coronavirus-baited mails, promising the secret of immunity. It is not just the virus then we must contend with, but also the infinite capacity of our species for self harm. We can’t help it. And worse, we’re so vulnerable now, so easily spooked, after so long braced against a calamity that never quite comes.

It is at such times as these good leadership can calm nerves and save lives. But our leaders these days seem of a breed ambitious only for power, and it strikes me how feeble they actually are as true leaders of people. It may be they have relied so much on the deployment misinformation to drive their campaigns to power, their tried and trusted strategies are useless in the face of the non-malleable fact of a highly contageous virus sweeping the world.

If it’s at all possible to stem the spread of Covid-19 before it becomes endemic, it will be our much scorned public servants who will do it, not our political leaders. Indeed it will be the public health services our leaders are so set on scaling back. It will be, dare I say it, the voiceless experts, so often derided and smeared as fools by the powerful. For now we wait on developments, but in a world already befuddled by the ultimate post-modern phenomenon of fake-news we are left wondering whose, if any, are the truly reliable voices, astonished that the only incontrovertible fact remaining to us in these horribly duplicitous times is that of the virus itself.

Worried? Don’t go to YouTube or Twitter for your info. Get the facts. Try here instead.

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