Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Coronavirus in Ireland: challenging misinformation and offering solutions – Independent Left

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Donald Trump, for example, has twice explained to the world that the threat of coronavirus will ‘go away’ in April with warmer weather. He’s said that life will return to normal after the spike and that the media have been exaggerating how dangerous the virus is.

And in their own way, the caretaker Irish government have been failing us. Their theme is ‘don’t panic’. Well, yes, panic wouldn’t help the situation. But is it panicking to want to know where the virus has been present and what measures are being taken to prevent it spreading? As the case of the student from Scoil Chaitríona shows, Fine Gael have a strategy of keeping detailed information out of the public domain as much as possible and assuring us that no special measures are needed.

This approach is creating panic rather than ending it. The less we know, the more we speculate and rumours (not without foundation in respect to the Mater hospital, but made up in other instances) of other possible cases fly around social media. Crucially, too, lives will be lost if the message goes out – as it did this morning on RTÉ’s panel discussion – that public concern about the coronavirus was massively exaggerated and we should carry on as normal. We shouldn’t even cancel travel plans to centres of infection like northern Italy.
— Read on

This is a very useful article.

See also :

In Italy, the Racist Far-Right is using the CoronaVirus Crisis :

David Broder, the European Editor of Jacobin and a historian of French and Italian Communism, Explains :

Empty supermarket shelves and the spread of designer-brand face masks show that Italians are panicking about coronavirus. The spread of the virus demands a planned and coherent response — but the politics of fear are instead turning Italians against each other.

When Billie Eilish wore a Gucci face mask to the Grammys last month, it was clear that the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan was about to impact the world of fashion. Little could the organizers of Milan Fashion Week (February 18–24) have known, the North Italian city would itself be rocked by the virus. On February 21, Italy headed into meltdown as fourteen people were tested positive in parts of the Lombardy region surrounding Milan. Giorgio Armani’s collection had to take the catwalk to behind closed doors.

With the Milan city center near-deserted, one particular fashion item however began record business: face masks, supposedly acting as protective “filters.” Luxury brand Fendi, whose headquarters inhabit Benito Mussolini’s imposing Colosseo Quadrato, listed masks for €190, and Marcelo Burlon for €70; both sold out within just hours. As pharmacies sold out of the item, even bog-standard versions traded on eBay for €50, with full protection kits (including disinfectant, gloves, and toilet seat cover) listed for €5,000.

The masks will do nothing to stop you from getting the virus. But with many who fear being killed, there’s plenty of opportunity for those who want to make a killing. For Tommaso Monacelli, an economics professor at Milan’s prestigious Bocconi University, tweeted that the spike in prices made sense, since it meant the masks would be allocated to infected people who really needed them (and were thus willing to pay), rather than the merely anxious.

This confident endorsement of market efficiency bore little relation to reality: and mask or not, the people who have tested positive for COVID-19 certainly shouldn’t be walking around. Yet peace of mind is a commodity just as much as pharmaceuticals, and many of those able to pay feel that they can buy a little token of safety. It doesn’t matter that the masks won’t help: at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on Friday, I saw at least half a dozen people with them hung around their chins, not even covering their mouths.

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