Rumors on epidemics and social conditions: In the middle of the nineteenth century, when thousands of people died in London from cholera and plague, one thing that was said repeatedly was, “until the pandemic would kill thousands of people.”
Yes, fear has already made millions a victim. ” Whenever there has been an epidemic in any part of the world, rumors, misinformation and propaganda have been ruling our information system.
Rumors on epidemics and social conditions: history keeps repeating itself
The same is happening in the case of the corona virus. Experts consider social media tools like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter responsible for the rapid spread of this misleading information. However, a look at the history of some of the most devastating epidemics reveals a different picture.
Even when there is no internet, rumors and misinformation about this disease would be widely circulated. The need to fight these rumors and misinformation is as important as the fight against the corona virus.
When cholera spread in London in the mid-nineteenth century, people were moving in equal numbers towards both doctors and priests. They were marching in the streets to ensure treatment to those infected with cholera.
Rumors on epidemics and social conditions
In his book, The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson mentions some popular solutions to the plague, including Sunder’s anti-mephitic fluid, opioid-related compound, brandy, homegrown prescriptions, and laxatives. Despite the increase in brandy dehydration, its use was recommended by doctors, which is very fatal in case of cholera.
The use of brandy had become so prevalent that people used to sprinkle brandy in their homes to cleanse it, just as people in India sprinkle Ganga water.
Rumors on epidemics and social conditions: Rumors spread quickly, despite the fact that people like Jon Snow had proved that cholera was spreading through contaminated water. In the early days, even the government refused to accept this proposal of Jon Snow.
In later days people were not ready to accept it even after their proposal was approved by the government and local administration. To explain to the common people what he had said, he had to sketch a map and show that more and more people died near water bodies, especially water pumps.
Despite scientific and rational efforts to understand and prevent the spread of cholera, a large proportion of people believe in faith and continue to contribute to the spread of cholera rumors.
Rumors on epidemics and social conditions: When governments started trench construction to control the spread of cholera, there were rumors that sewer excavations had revealed the rotten things, rather rumors were still there that burials of people still dead from the plague.
The dead bodies have started circling the neighborhood. The big newspapers published reports about sewer manufacturers and criticized them to the extent that the government had to set up a commission to investigate the matter.
The case of corona virus is also to a large extent, especially in India. Messages are being circulated about the new drug discovery for COVID-19.
Rumors on epidemics and social conditions: The media is presenting cases of people recovering from the corona virus as a new discovery of a successful drug against the corona virus, while the media is not mentioning that about 90% of people worldwide infected with the corona virus Is being successfully treated.Rumors on epidemics and social conditions:
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), the proportion of deaths due to corona virus worldwide is between 3% and 4%.
However, at present, measures like cow urine, basil, incense, etc. are being promoted as effective ‘medicine’ for the corona virus. Our political representatives have gone one step further by chanting ‘Go Corona Go’ in a mass gathering as a precautionary measure to fight the corona virus.
Rumors on epidemics and social conditions: People in India believe that the collective sound of bells, shells, steel plates has been found to be effective in action against COVID-19 by NASA.Despite repeated appeals to medical experts, people are traveling to their ancestral villages. Despite a nationwide appeal to the locals, news of the departure of auto rickshaw drivers from different routes from Delhi to Bihar came to light.
Traveling under these conditions can be most fatal, displaced laborers from Bihar and UP working in Maharashtra and Gujarat are forced to visit their ancestral villages.
There have been reports of racial abuse and attacks on people of the North-East. Ever since the fear of the corona virus started, the idea of blaming Chinese people and Chinese cultures for this epidemic has started coming up.
Instead we should also look at it in the context that the cholera epidemic that started in India had spread all over the world. The plague began in Europe and reached every corner of the world.
Johnson writes that at the time of the cholera and plague of the nineteenth century, the filthy and dirty lives of the working class and the Jews were blamed for the spread of that epidemic.
Johnson also states that cholera and plague affected both the rich and the poor alike. Instead of blaming each other, a global initiative is needed to fight the global crisis.