Plagues and People – The Coronavirus in a Historical Perspective

By Jan LundiusSTOCKHOLM / ROME, Mar 19 2020 (IPS) The human factor is intimately involved in the origin, spread, and mitigation of the Coronavirus and we cannot afford to ignore that our future existence depends on compassion and cooperation. Response matters! Some quarantined Italians might recall Giovanni Boccaccio´s The Decameron from 1353 in which people escaping the plague are secluded in a villa where they tell stories to each other. Boccaccio introduced his collection of short stories with an eyewitness account of horrifying human suffering in Florence, which in 1348 was struck by a ”pestilence” that every day ”grew in strength” while it swept relentlessly on from one place to another. In the face of its onrush all the wisdom and ingenuity of man were unavailing. Large quantities of refuse were cleared out of the city by officials appointed for the purpose, all sick persons were forbidden entry, and numerous instructions were issued for safeguarding the people´s health, but all to no avail […] it seemed that all the advice of physicians and all the power of medicine were profitless and unavailing. Perhaps the nature of the illness was such that it allowed no remedy: or perhaps those people who were treating the illness […] being ignorant of its causes, were not prescribing the appropriate cure.1 Boccaccio describes the Black Death as a natural phenomenon and it was common to consider epidemic outbreaks as an inevitabl...
Source: IPS Inter Press Service - Health - Category: International Medicine & Public Health Authors: Tags: Global Headlines Health Humanitarian Emergencies TerraViva United Nations Women's Health Source Type: news

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