Coronavirus fear, panic, and desperation is real, and it’s spreading like wildfire all across the globe, from Australia to Iran to even the United States.
For evidence, one need only to turn to Twitter, where video footage of panicked people acting like maniacs has been surfacing nonstop ever since the global media establishment began broadcasting 24/7 reports about the coronavirus.
Case in point:
— ΛUSTIN S0W311 (@SoWell_Austin) March 1, 2020
Panic buying confirmed at Costco stores acroos the United States as stores flooded with customers buying health care items, food, cleaning products and other items in bulk as fears of the #coronavirus outbreak spread across the U.S. pic.twitter.com/UlbSdRA6Tn
— Alexander Higgins – Coronavirus Updates (@kr3at) March 1, 2020
At a Chinese supermarket in Flushing, New York City, USA. People say these people must have read too much stuff from #WeChat and are having the same kind of panic strike as their fellow countrymen in #China. #COVID2019 #Coronavirus #CoronavirusOutbreak #coronaviruschina pic.twitter.com/J3eqsftn3N
— 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 29, 2020
— COVID-19 News (@COVID_19_News) March 3, 2020
However, the panic being seen here in the states is relatively calm and quiet compared to the panic that’s emerged in countries like Australia.
“A fight over toilet paper in an Australian supermarket on Saturday (Mar 7) prompted police to call for calm after the latest violence sparked by coronavirus-induced panic buying in the country,” Channel NewsAsia has reported.
“A video widely shared online shows three women pulling each other’s hair and screaming as they struggle over a large pack of the highly sought-after commodity in the aisle of a grocery store in Sydney.”
That video may be seen below:
Violent fight over toilet paper in Australia sparks call for calm amid coronavirus panic pic.twitter.com/yb1KfSGhEB
— DAILY SABAH (@DailySabah) March 7, 2020
Following the incident, local authorities pleaded with folks to calm down.
“It’s not the Thunderdome, it’s not Mad Max. We don’t need to do that,” Acting Inspector Andrew New of the New South Wales Police Force told reporters.
He was referring to the steel-cage jousting arena from the post-apocalyptic film, “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.”
Watch a scene from the film below to get an idea of what he meant:
Yet even the panic seen in first-world countries such as Australia pales in comparison to the panic and utter desperation that’s taken hold in third-world nations.
Over in Iran, the panic is so severe that the nation’s Islamic government has opted to release 54,000 prisoners for reasons that have baffled critics.
“Iran’s judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told reporters the Middle Eastern country will be releasing more than 54,000 inmates from its crowded prison system on furlough after they test negative for the virus and post bail,” UPI confirmed.
It’s not clear how they plan to re-apprehend these inmates once the coronavirus crisis subsides.
Meanwhile, all of this is happening in Iran:
An angry crowd set fire to a clinic in Bandar Abbas, south of #Iran because it had patients in it suffering from #coronavirus. Some people say the patients were from Qom -very far away- and this had angered the mob. There is a sense of panic. Still hard to believe this happened. pic.twitter.com/e6nRRrlKDx
— Ali Arouzi (@aliarouzi) February 29, 2020
#coronavirus Iran: Population seeking help in hospitals for coronavirus. “We estimate that 30 to 40% of Tehran’s population will be infected with COVID-19 by March 20,” says Dr. Massoud Mardani, member of Iran’s National Influenza Committee. Tehran population: 12 million. pic.twitter.com/vs8kfsm229
— nerd (@nerd_hawk) March 6, 2020
Panic scenes: People started running after a man collapsed in #Italy‘s shopping center due to #coronavirus. Via Global Politics#COVID19 #SARSCoV2 #Coronvirus #CoronavirusOutbreak #CoronaAlert #Corona #COVIDー19 #COVID19 #COVID #Coronavius #CoronaVirusUpdate #COVID19NL #Iran pic.twitter.com/VVXku6S1iF
— Faruk Firat (@FarukFirat1987) March 5, 2020
And then there’s this:
Fear, panic, desperation… ?
16 confirmed cases in Lebanon, schools remain closed, actual number believed to be higher ?? pic.twitter.com/nIxxohx5kc
— Firas Maksad (@FirasMaksad) March 6, 2020
This video from #Wuhan is to show how people fight for food.
— ISCResearch (@ISCResearch) January 23, 2020
The useless Chinese govt is unable to fight the #coronavirus effectively, nor is it able to calm the population.
They are world champions in censoring the Internet
— ISCResearch (@ISCResearch) January 26, 2020
A question that has emerged is whether this panic is being driven by real facts or by fear-mongering. The answer may depend entirely on the country where the panic is being seen. In a third-world country such as Iran, one naturally faces a higher risk of being infected, ergo why Iranians reportedly face the highest death rates.
That said, it’s undeniable that media coverage does play at least some role in spurring panic, according to Cardiff University Prof. Karin Wahl-Jorgensen.
“The current outbreak has been much more prominent in media coverage than recent epidemics, including Ebola,” she wrote last month for the Nieman Journalism Lab.
“For example, a Time Magazine study found that there were 23 times more articles in English-language print news covering the coronavirus outbreak in its first month compared to the same time period for the 2018 Ebola epidemic.”
She added that it seems “fear has played a particularly vital role in coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.”
And this fear, she concluded, “suggests that much of the outbreak’s coverage is more of a reflection of public fear than informative of what’s actually happening in terms of the spread of the virus.”
Fear that, it would seem, is being driven partly by the media …
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