Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: The world is going crazy with fear of COVID-19, but this is not a reason to lose our dignity as humans

Media headlines resemble front-line reports. World exchanges are unstable as if half a dozen transnational corporations gone bankrupt at once. Countries shut their borders, and you will only see a lonely passer-by on the city streets, who is dressed most likely in uniform.

Such apocalyptic pictures of today's reality are not the result of an alien invasion or a natural disaster on a global scale, but a new causative agent of acute respiratory viral infection (ARVI) known as COVID-19.

The World Health Organization has already announced the onset of a pandemic. This statement seemed to have spurred an avalanche of panic rumours, conspiracy versions and a decadent mood spread.

The threat of a new infection has changed people's behaviour. In quite prosperous countries, buyers completely emptied the stores’ shelves with goods that they would never have bought at other times. After many years of propaganda of tolerance, xenophobic moods intensified, and there were cases when fellow citizens on their way home from countries hit by virus were met with curses and cobblestones.
What's happening? SARS epidemics occur annually, but they did not seem to cause such mass hysteria. Why did people, who were recently proud of their civilization, instantly turn into a flock of starving hyenas? Why having suddenly forgotten their upbringing and tolerance are they ready to kill a neighbour for a pack of toilet paper and stone to death an unfortunate patient?
Usually, people do not consider any cold or even flu to be a serious illness, even though they sometimes cause serious complications and lead to death. Moreover, we are quite familiar with the coronaviruses, to which the new strain belongs. Of course, COVID-19 causes much more serious complications than regular flu, and, unfortunately, its lethality (the ratio of the number of deaths to the number of infected) is much higher.  But the very malaria, it takes as many lives in a couple of days as this virus has taken since the beginning of the epidemic.
It seems that the main horror of this infection is in its novelty. There is too little information about this coronavirus to this day to successful fight against it. And people are afraid of all that is new and incomprehensible. Remember how horrified we were by Bird and Swine flu.
Threats of death of unknown origin cause panic. The expectations of a universal nightmare are reinforced by the historical memory of past pandemics. “Black death”, smallpox, measles and other diseases more than once significantly reduced the human population in the past. Just a century ago, the world experienced an epidemic of the Spanish flu, with which COVID-19 is now compared.
Unfortunately, there is panic in Russia as well. Our compatriots began to prepare for the apocalypse long before the disease came to Russia. Now it is difficult to buy medical masks even at exorbitant prices. In some places, supermarkets welcome evening shoppers with empty shelves, as in the worst Soviet years. But how justified is this forward-looking approach?
Let's put aside emotions and try to reason logically.
As far as I know, COVID-19 has not yet appeared in my native Kalmykia. However, viruses know no boundaries, and eventually this would happen. And I really would not want to have panic on top of the problems associated with the epidemic.
First of all, let's recall that any epidemic (including the flu that we usually ignore) is always serious. Especially when it comes to poorly understood disease. So, it is necessary to carefully follow the recommendations of epidemiologists. No matter how developed medicine is in a particular country, medical institutions are designed to provide simultaneous assistance to approximately one percent of the population. However, (as in the case of the Spanish flu) the system collapses if one third of the country's inhabitants need an instant treatment.
So why shall we increase the burden on doctors, who already have a hard time? Let me remind you that recommendations for the prevention of infection and basic information about the new coronavirus can be found on the official website of stopcoronavirus.ru.
Of course, the rescue of drowning is not the work of the drowning themselves. I hope the authorities at all levels will do everything to end the epidemic with the least damage. We will probably have to mobilize all possible reserves, and to give up our own political interests but this must be done.
In China, which was the first to be hit by a new coronavirus and the first to deal with it, there is a saying: "when the sky is ready to fall, it is supported by tall people." From the very beginning of the Wuhan epidemic, Chinese business has come to grips with it. By 30 January, Chinese companies had transferred 13 billion yuan to help the scientists, doctors, and patients. However, they did not stop at it. Chinese entrepreneurs were involved in catering in hospitals, humanitarian supplies of medicines, and even providing logistics for sales of agricultural products in quarantined areas. In short, they did everything to make it easier for the authorities and society to fight the disease.
Of course, there are neither large enterprises, nor even international online traders in Kalmykia. But I sincerely hope that our businessmen will also confront the epidemic. In the end, sometimes it’s not very difficult: sometimes it’s enough to let employees work remotely, sometimes a dispenser with an antiseptic at the entrance will do. I am sure it would never occur to anyone to profit from a common misfortune, raising prices for the same medical masks or products.
And yet, the main thing is not to succumb to panic and despondency. In the midst of the cholera epidemic of 1831, Pushkin wrote to his friend and publisher Pyotr Pletnev: “Your letter troubled me greatly. You are sad again. Hey, look, depression is worse than cholera, the one kills only the body; the other kills the soul... Nonsense! Don’t be depressed; cholera will pass one of these days. If we are alive, we would be happy someday. ”
Let us not lose our souls, our minds, or our dignity before yet another little-studied disease.