Life

Leona O'Neill: 'Panicker'? Partier? Rebel? What coronavirus category are you in?

In the midst of the coronavirus global pandemic people have radically differing views not just on how to react to the challenge but on whether there even is one, writes Leona O'Neill

Are you sticking by the rules, sometimes at risk of being labelled a 'pandemic panicker' by people fed up with the situation or sceptical of the advice to do so?
Leona O'Neill

THE coronavirus pandemic that has had the world in its fierce grip these last few months has created several types of people – those who care, those who don't, the terrified and the conspiracy theorists, among many others. Some of them all live under the one roof in family homes which has only made the lockdown more colourful.

There are those – like myself, I must admit – who have stuck to the rules. In fact, because of my job and the access to virologists and epidemiologists that role gave me, I at times acted before the government did and locked down, took the kids from school, took precautions before the government gave the nod to do so.

I’ve stuck by the regulations religiously and got seriously annoyed and frustrated when others blatantly disregarded them. I am still cautious. I guess that makes me a ‘rule stickler’ in this pandemic.

I might also slot into the ‘pandemic panicker’ category. I have frequently albeit quietly freaked out about what is happening. Every sneeze and cough in this house – which is half populated with asthma and hayfever sufferers – is met with dread and a thermometer.

And then there are my two teenage sons who fit into the ‘I’m so over this pandemic’ category.

Normally when you go through times of challenge, there is some end to it. But this has been a prolonged challenge to the human spirit and, in their eyes, seemingly never-ending misery.

Spending months locked up in the house away from their friends, being let out only to have their social lives curtailed because of a deadly virus is not what they signed up for in their teenage years. They want a refund. They want to get back to normal, to how things were before. It’s the summer, they want to congregate with large numbers of their friends, they want the parties in houses, they want to go out and enjoy themselves but this virus and their ‘pandemic panicker’ mum is stopping all that.

My mum and some of her pensioner friends could very well fit into the ‘pandemic rebel’ categories. These are the older folk, many of whom were shielding, who have to be constantly reminded of the dangers and practically have to be grounded in a role reversal from our own teenage years to prevent them from going to the shop or about their normal business in what were extraordinary and surreal times.

I know people who are in the ‘I just don’t care’ pandemic category. They want to get on with life, they resent that their activities have been shut down, think it was all a waste of time and think we should scrap all the restrictions, open all the shops, offices and schools and just take our chances without restrictions. Sure how bad could it get?

And I also know some ‘pandemic hoaxers’ who think the virus is just a big conspiracy to keep the people down. They feel that the government is exaggerating the death rate and trying to instil fear so as to keep the public under its control. And when you ask why world governments would want to instil fear in the population, resulting in a closure of many businesses who pay rates and tax to said governments, put millions on welfare – a bill that the government has to fund – and basically completely destroy the economy, they say you’re an enabler and a fearmonger. They say a face mask is no more than a face nappy and they won't be wearing one.

Then there’s a ‘pandemic partiers’, those who despite there being a global health crisis that scientists, senior health professionals, doctors, virologists, the government, just about everyone say gathering in large numbers aids the spread of a deadly virus, insist on keeping the party going, regardless. They are the neighbours who have ‘socially distanced parties’ in their back garden with 50 drunk people and a singer belting out The Hucklebuck through an amped-up microphone so it can be heard for miles.

Whatever category you fit into, I hope you and you family are doing OK. These are tough times. But we’re tougher.

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