“Cancel Everything: Social distancing is the only way to stop the coronavirus.We must start immediately“. That was the title of one of the coronavirus-related articles on The Atlantic today and it’s hard to disagree with the author.

These measures may seem extreme but the mass hysteria that the coronavirus is causing coupled with the recklessness of a large number of people are making the virus spread at a frightening speed, and threatening to overwhelm our health-care system and claim more lives. Yesterday, more than 3,500 French people gathered to break the Guinness World Record for the most people dressed up together as Smurfs on Saturday despite the warnings claiming that “There’s no risk — we’re Smurfs!” which is reckless and stupid to say the least. Today, a local TV went up to a ski resort where one of the people in charge was bragging that the “nice atmosphere” and the snow were enough to “protect” the people from the virus. Add to that the school that took its students to the mall, a radio station promoting a party with an open bar for the ladies, the Casino Du Liban manager claiming they are safe before eventually shutting down and the list goes on …

This is pure ignorance. We’re putting more people at risk and helping the virus spread and we’re all aware hospitals are NOT prepared for a pandemic. We already have serious problems on our hands, the last thing we need is an out-of-control pandemic in the country!

We need to take extreme measures and we need to start taking them NOW! We don’t have to wait for the authorities to behave as responsible individuals.

– Sports event should be cancelled or played in front of an empty stadium.
– Schools, Universities and daycares should remain closed.
– Conferences must be postponed.
– Businesses should be asked to shut down or take strict measures. As I mentioned earlier, there’s no point in asking gyms to shut down while the Arguile shop next door is still open.
– Travel bans to high-risk countries must be put in place immediately.
– Stricter measures need to be taken at the airport, seaport and borders.
– Sunday masses and Friday prayers need to be cancelled until further notice.
– Gatherings at religious places must be banned as well.

We’re a small country, we have one airport and have a country at war next to us. We’re facing an unprecedented economic crisis, we barely have any tourists, which means we can (could have) very easily implemented stricter measures.

Nevertheless, it’s never too late to prevent the virus from spreading further by staying away from public places and restricting all forms of gatherings and nonessential travel. No we cannot go on as if it’s just another virus, our health system will get overrun within few days if this spreads like it did in Italy, Iran or China, especially if it spreads among refugees who are already living in detrimental conditions.

If you feel even a little sick, do not go to work, do not go party, do not go out with friends and act normal. If you’re a healthy young man or woman, you will most probably recover but you might infect vulnerable people around you by not isolating yourself. Self-isolation is key to stopping COVID-19 from spreading and it has be done right.

We don’t need to panic but we must stop downplaying this virus. Act responsibly, spread awareness around you in order to protect yourself and your loved ones.