Prevalence of Rumors in Emergency Situations: Superstitions and Prevention of Coronavirus in Afghanistan

As a global epidemic, the Coronavirus has challenged all countries, including major industrialized nations, and countries pioneers in medical science and technology. The crisis caused by rapid spread of unknown corona virus has driven almost all major cities in the world to quarantine.

According to official statistics, more than 100 people have been infected with the Coronavirus in Afghanistan, and the government has imposed day-time curfew in the cities of Herat and Kabul to prevent further spread of the virus.

But at the same time, the virus has not yet been taken seriously by the public, and it is more commonly dealt with in the form of jokes and memes.

Though the coronavirus is a global threat in the medical fields, superstitious approaches to this phenomenon are interesting in an age where everyone is rationalized.

Rumors in emergency situations

The film “Contagion” which was directed by Steven Soderbergh in 2011, closely resembles the current state of the world-wide corona virus outbreak in China. The drama is about a regular family man (Matt Damon) trying to navigate a partial societal collapse after a deadly virus sweeps across the globe. The filmmakers, including director Steven Soderbergh and writer Scott Burns, set out to make a film that was as realistic as possible. And they accomplished that, in part, by consulting numerous real-life epidemiological experts.

Jude Law, an English actor plays the role of a blogger who uses the opportunity to spread the rumor that “Yellow Jasmine” is an unknown virus cure. A viral infected person, himself, appears on his blog as a virus-infected person in front of the camera and tells his audience that if he were alive tomorrow, it would have treated him. It makes people all look for Jasmine Yellow and she’s gaining nearly $ 4 million from such a rumor.

The film is not aimed at predicting the virus, but about the peripheral status of such events, and the role of rumors in such situations. Like the film, there are now rumors about the spread of the unknown corona virus in social networks, which are sometimes interesting, sometimes with economic consequences and changes in the market. The price of some of the raw materials, such as orange and lemon, has been rising these days because of rumors that they have been introduced as a cure to the corona virus on social media. But more interesting is drinking two cups of black tea.

Two cups of black tea

I was asleep, woke up to the phone ringing, saw it was about midnight; one of my relatives from a village in central Afghanistan called me. When I answered the phone and asked what was going on? He asked me is it true that black tea is a cure for the corona virus? I said what are you talking about? In response, he said they are shouting at the mosque’s loudspeaker that everyone in the village would wake up, brew black tea and drink two cups of it each to protect against the Corona virus.

After the phone call, I remembered what was going on in the social media; everyone had written about black tea, some in jokes, some seriously believed that drinking two cups of black tea was a cure for the coronavirus.

The story is rumored that a baby was born in one of the eastern provinces of Afghanistan and advised people to drink two cups of black tea to prevent the corona virus, and then died. While many users of social media have dealt with this as a comic, it is still enough for market prices to change, supply to decline and demand to rise. Of course, some users wrote that even if it was superstition and rumor, drinking two cups of black tea wouldn’t hurt, so we’d better drink it.

However, as nearly three months have passed since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, strange superstitious treatments have been introduced around the world, such as in the case of the controversial use of cotton seed oil in Iran, as well as in India. It has gone even further, and cow urine has been prescribed; in Afghanistan, however, drinking black tea has more than ever involved strange treatments, people and social network users.

In relation to the past

Darwin Ajamoglu and James E. Robinson in their co-authored book How Do Nations Fail? Concerning the plague: In the mid-14th century, the plague or “Black Death” entered Europe through merchants traveling along the Silk Road and entered the port cities of Tana at the Danube at the Black Sea. Receipt. The disease reached Istanbul today in early 1347 and spread to France, North Africa and Italy in the spring of 1348.

The plague destroys half the population there. The Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio, as a first-hand witness to its arrival in Florence, writes in his memoirs: “All wisdom and ingenuity were useless in the face of the onslaught of the plague.

“The plague spread in a terrible and unexpected way to reveal its catastrophic effects.” In England, the people knew that a plague was coming. In mid-August 1348, King Edward III asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to arrange a prayer. But the prayers of the bishops and priests did not work. The plague quickly killed about half of England’s population. But in Italy, Boccaccio recalls, “some would say that a surefire way to avoid this fearsome devil is to get drunk, enjoy life fully, sing, roam happily, and have all his desires and needs at every opportunity. To bring things to naught, as if they were exaggerated jokes.

The above examples each show that at any point in time, even in the twenty-first century, rumors and sometimes superstitions in the face of major problems such as the global coronavirus epidemic form one aspect of these stories. It is therefore necessary to deal with these rumors and superstitions through responsible mass media and address the people in Afghanistan about the damages such rumors have on the people’s living.

Abbas Arefi and Freshta Farhang contributed reporting.

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