As the World Health Organization (WHO) warns of a possible outbreak of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS coronavirus), BBC News takes a look at what people are saying about the virus


I still want there to be some sort of vaccine or treatment ready for use in
a matter of weeks.

I don’t think “in a matter of weeks” is the right time to go on a campaign
call for testing. It’s too little too late. And besides, we’ve already tested
the coronavirus with a vaccine by using the DNA – so why not use the DNA that
we already know will work just as well?

Yeah, yeah, we’re so advanced.

No, we’re still behind the curve.

Yeah, like, we don’t know how a person will react to a virus. Like, maybe
it will get into the bloodstream, somehow, how?! I’m shocked by how weak
people have looked and how weak the lungs seem to be. They’re so thin that
you can see their ribs, and then there’s the brain.

You’re losing it.

You’re a bit, aren’t you?

Look, this is just a nightmare that could happen, because of the virus
in China and South Korea and how they’ve dealt with cases in the past
through a combination of lockdown and quarantine and trying to prevent
infection in the first place.

Well, we live in the age of communication, and we are much more connected
to each other by e-mail and social media than we were even a few years ago. So
it makes it easier to spread the message of this virus to us, instead of
people having to be in contact with them.

That’s actually not a very good way to do things. It means we’re a bit too
open to be able to use that, like a contact-tracing system for example. Look,
this is not a good thing!

What do you mean?

Like, we’re very vulnerable. Like, we may be out of control more with
coronavirus because we are so vulnerable.

We’ll get it eventually.

We’ll get it!

But, look, as we’ve shown, we’re not in control.

Yeah, but we’re not in control! It’s just a matter of time until we’ll get
it. And, more important, it may not even kill us. We won’t know till it happens
afterwards. It’s the uncertainty that worries me.

Yeah, but we can live with uncertainty. We can’t live with certainty. And
if it turns out to be too deadly, people then have to be responsible for
taking care of themselves, whether they can do that or not.

Okay, but what you’re saying is that we should wait and just be patient?

No, not me!

I disagree. Of course we should be patient because these are really
unprecedented times. But for us to be patient, we have to be responsible.
We want good health, we want well-being, we want an ability to work, and we
want to be able to continue with our daily lives, enjoy our daily lives. If we
forget about this and it’s too difficult, then we need to be as responsible as
we can. I think the main thing is to stop playing games about it – and really
start to care for the people who are infected.

I do, really, I really do. But I’ve also seen so many examples here and
there, people being very passive in their reactions and being kind, but also
informing others, making a list of resources and being very proactive. Like,
if we see a need, then it’s more likely there will be a way to help us.

That’s not a game by the way – that’s a very serious thing to say, because
it’s not a matter of whether we are responsible or not. If it were, we wouldn’t
be able to have this conversation.

If we were irresponsible, we’d have to be accountable.

I don’t want to get into a debate, but I feel like we are taking sides
for or against anyone, or even the entire world, against each other. At school
we had this topic, and the debate was about this and that. This is just one example.
I don’t think it’s fair to say that we are taking sides, because we don’t take
all things to the extremes. And besides, if we were against people who are
infected, we’d be against everyone, whether they are innocent or guilty, or an
innocent person. I don’t want to take sides. I want a healthy society with a
safe society.

Right, because people don’t get infected in the first place.

Yeah, well, that’s what I’m saying. There’s no need to try to make it into
this issue of people being responsible in the first place, because by
definition, we’re not responsible. We have a choice in whether it’s a bad
place to be or not. If we think we’re not responsible, that’s a very different

Right, and we don’t have choice about whether we’re responsible, because we
are responsible.

Exactly, exactly. And that’s how I see it.

Alright, so let’s look at that. If we take that mindset, we will know what
to do. No one is responsible for what happens to our bodies and minds. We
are, and we have a choice. The question of whether we should care for ourselves
or care for the community, that’s a political question. It’s what I really
find difficult with. Because, first of all, we’re politicians, after all, we’re
not just normal people, okay?

Well, okay. But here’s a practical question. Now that the virus is out, how
will people deal with it then?

You know what I’m really struggling with?

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