Dashain feels just around the corner and I am not sure whether I should be excited or worried. In fact, I do not even know what Dashain 2020 would be like. Is it safe to visit the relatives that I never met throughout the year? If I do visit, do I wear a mask whilst ‘tika’ is being smeared across my forehead? Do I insist the elder to thoroughly wash hands (preferably for 20 seconds) before the smearing campaign? How would odd-even system for the movement of private vehicles impact relatives’ visitations to and fro?
Additionally, is it worth buying new clothes and shoes as customary traditions this Dashain? After all, I have become comfortable wearing clothes bought many Dashain(s) ago, thanks to lockdown and travel restrictions. Shoes that remain unworn for months may even have given insects a permanent abode and enough dust to give me a sneeze. Do I retire them and buy a new pair, albeit for what use?
Plus, prevailing wind blowing from Singha Durbar tells that if more than 25000 active COVID-19 cases, then it is safer to stay indoors some more (apparently they know what’s safe for us than ourselves). Given this, I feel the opportunity costs of buying new shoes and fancy clothes is more than saving some cash to buy necessary rations (should lockdown is re-imposed). I honestly hope that lockdown 3.0 is not accompanied by load-shedding 2.0, otherwise, we are staring at a situation which could result in what game theorists would call a ‘zero-sum’ game.
Another bigger concern awaits for me. Winter. Even after living in Finland for 3 years and having survived subzero temperature almost throughout the winter (lasting 5 months), winter is still a dreaded nightmare (cold=hate). However, this winter it is not only the cold that I am worried about. It is the extra layer of unwarranted concern induced by the pandemic. We know that common cold is the most prevalent during the winter in almost all parts of the world, including Nepal. Given the current situation, a single sneeze or a cough due to an innocent common cold could turn more heads in a street than a handsome woman (provided she is unmasked).
However, more worrisome is the psychological fear that simple symptoms of common cold could induce upon a sane person. After all, a seasonal flu does have similar symptoms of COVID-19 and vice –versa. In that case, I cannot help but wonder, will there be longer queues of people queuing up to get PCR tested for COVID-19 in Teku hospital during the winter?
A behavioral economist may ask, is the decision to get PCR tested a bounded rationality?
Is it justified to act upon those unfounded fears and spend time and money to get PCR tested? If you are tested negative, then what could be the opportunity cost of time and money spent on doing that test? (No pun intended!)
Well, one thing is for sure, uncertainty is certain. We have spent about half a year amidst the pandemic, and we may have to spend another half hunkered down. Wearing masks, washing and sanitizing hands at regular intervals and maintaining social distancing is here to stay. Unless vaccines are on the way (I hear Russians are coming!), but could that be fake news?
Thumbnail picture source: https://unsplash.com/photos/pRi0DvmiFf8