This new virus has really taken off and has thrown the region and, I’m sure, the world into a tizzy. Though, in the big picture, there’s not been a huge number of deaths outside of China, there is a great unease.
Really, though, the number of traffic deaths in Thailand since the start of the year numbers 2600. Yet, traffic enforcement is spotty and it is often the law of the concrete jungle out there.
Masks, though? Despite the fact that there’s little evidence that they prevent you from catching the virus, a majority have got them. To the point where they are in short supply. It’s a money making opportunity though. Adverts abound for masks with varying qualities and gizmos. God willing, once this passes, dermatologists will have a field day treating the facial acne from smearing one’s breath over one’s cheeks for 18 hours a day.
One in three folks wears the incorrectly, covering the mouth only, or too loose to do any good, or wearing them until they have to take a puff of their cigarette. Then there are those masks with the one-way valves on them, that really do nothing to stop that person, if infected, from spreading the wealth around.
What’s really missing that might help, is hand sanitizer. When one thinks of all the door knobs and hand rails that get touched, and all the bathrooms that are often without soap,or with shared towels, one might think about a preemptive quarantine until the end of the world. Some gallon containers placed everywhere would be good. Alas, they’re few and far between.
Travel is under assault as well. Whether because of fear of illness or loss of revenue, airlines are scaling back or cancelling flights to an increased number of places. Passengers are funneled through thermal scanners as they enter the country. Those with higher temps are pulled aside for a closer. At 8 PM one day last week, the main airport in Bangkok was dead. So dead, that immigration officials were flat ironing each other’s hair.
If you’re fearless, and healthy, it’s a great time to travel. The throngs are gone, the lines diminished, and it is easier to get around. Flights, when you can get them are cut rate and vendors are hungry to make a deal. I inquired about business at a Vietnam hotel. The clerk reassured me they are busy, because they didn’t allow Chinese into the hotel.
“Ah! Sure, sure! “ I replied.
A quick plug for your servants. Those out there promoting and defending American values. It is during crises like pending civil breakdowns or stranded, wandering and fomenting cruise ships, that these folks step in.
They drop their usual day jobs, they bring their spouses and in some cases, their kids. They help make flights, they charter planes, they check documents, they sling baggage, they cobble together medical care for people who have no business traveling.
In short, they come just short of moving heaven and earth and put themselves at some risk in order to get Americans and others to places of safety. It is not always perfect, but it is with the noblest of intents.
10 days later, it seems to be everywhere, no matter where we shut the barn door. It is viral whack- a- mole and we may be out of quarters. We should all be such heros to each other.