CautioN AgainsT a SeconD WavE of the CoronaviruS
Suppose you step onto an alien planet. Here your new neighbours behave very differently from those in your ancient planet Earth.
They continuously and thoroughly clean their hands with water and soap, they avoid going to crowded places, and they cover their mouths and noses when they are close to one another.
The reason for this bizarre behaviour: a new and very contagious virus has alienated the planet. This new enemy is invisible and causes an infectious disease that can only be defeated by social distancing. Their purpose is to avoid a second wave of the virus infection.
So, your new planet mates have developed ingenious methods to avoid transmission of the foe. Some examples: virtual birthday celebrations, online workouts, telecommuting, more delivery services from restaurants and grocery stores, and a boom of local tourism. And only when virtual encounters are insufficient, they share physical space but use face masks.
Unfortunately, this is not a distant planet, this our dear friend, Planet Earth.
Thankfully, we too possess all these tools that can help us minimize social contact. Obviously, not everybody can live or work in a virtual mode, but the vast majority of citizens have adapted to the new and strange reality. And great adaptive capacity and commitment have been demonstrated in most countries when the mandated lockdowns have been lifted.
At this point we still cannot return to our beloved old routine. We must remain cautious and cannot shrug off the threat with: “Well, that’s how things work in our imperfect World”. Now is when messages of caution, like that of Ecuadorian climber Iván Vallejo, take great importance.
Vallejo states that many mountaineers reached the tallest summits, but more than a few died while descending from them. This figure is known as the descent fatality rate: climbers who died on descent after summiting. When you are above 8,000 m (the so-called death zone) you want to go back down immediately. And the descent is even more dangerous than the ascent, since you are more exhausted.
Ergo, after so many days of confinement we have reached the peak of the virus and it is now time for the “descent”. The workers on the frontline are exhausted. And so are we, the ordinary people. We are probably sick and tired of the lockdown and scared of its impact on the economy. We want to escape from the death zone. But we must do it wisely. Let us not lose our concentration and take care during the descent. Let us not spoil what we worked so hard to achieve. Let us reach base camp without losing another member of the rope.
Only if we keep our focus, we will drive down the rates of infection.
In Banabio, we want to be part of this effort and we have deployed measures to hold off the enemy; since bananas cannot be harvested online, we limit person-to-person contact, increase hygiene protocols, use protective personal equipment, identify and isolate potentially infectious people.
As The Guardian stated last week: “Ten countries currently facing serious increases in coronavirus infections are among those nations with less stringent approaches to managing their outbreaks”. Surely, having a “relaxed response” to the pandemic does not seem to be the best solution.
This pandemic is a stick in the wheels of the global economy, particularly for the most vulnerable – the very old and those with lower incomes. So, keep the distance to keep safe and sound.
Iván Vallejo is the first, and still the only, Southern Hemisphere climber to complete all 14 eight-thousanders without supplemental oxygen.
Only he and 7 other people have reached the top of the 14 mountains over 8000 m without supplemental oxygen.