A 17-point guide to the new game of Hiding Covidly
This is a historic game. You are a virus. Survive.
This game requires stealth, evolution, politics, inequality and indifference.
1) You’re a virus. Your only evolutionary need is to replicate. Reproduce would be generous, as it remains unclear whether a virus is in fact ‘alive’. Thus you hide ‘covidly’ in a host, in order to make more virus. A little like dirt on a shoe being spread around.
2) Now, you are doing alright in China. China doesn’t like to share bad news (a hallmark of such regimes). So you are hiding in plain sight. Spreading, coughing, killing (although this is not really your goal). Your first mistake: China is forced to admit there may be a game of hide and seek.
3) You are given a name – a derivative of SARS – a cousin who only made it a few months. This makes hiding a little more difficult, but you can shift and morph with adaptation, denial and indifference. You may now be actively playing hide and seek, but most people are not.
4) Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore do not trust China. They begin immediately looking for you, so it is time to move on.
5) Finding a happy-clappy church group in Korea where spreading was easy proved a good move, but the Koreans come down hard. You have found one of three outstanding hiding places: churches, meat-packing plants and particularly nursing homes!
6) Fortunately, Europe thinks you’re ‘overblown’. Covidly hiding is now obvious, but only in Northern Italy. Populists in power and a fragile economy: this is ideal. Add dense living conditions and global trade, mixed with an aging population and poor air quality. Perfect. Spread and spread.
7) It is time to be a little careful. The Germans seem to be on to you, a little like the Koreans, and a few countries start to take note. The Spaniards have an excellent medical system, but poorly managed homes for the elderly. This will do.
8) Pure luck! The populists take over. Boris Johnson shakes hands with those infected. France’s Emmanuel Macron tells people to relax and Donald Trump praises China and says all is under control – actually disappearing. You are gifted with weeks more – well played!
9) Meanwhile, you continue to hide covidly by travelling and morphing. Finding super-spreaders, conspiracy theorists, libertarians and indifference.
10) Sure, they look for you. They limit your hiding spots by isolating and wearing masks, but social media has your back. So does apathy and arrogance.
11) Of course you find a home among the poor, in densely populated areas and in factories. Underfunded and ill-prepared medical systems help enormously, but home is really in centres of long-term care. Killing is not ideal as that requires new hosts, but there are so many people.
12) You infest the west, destabilize economies and expose populist lies – and this only helps them to help you!
13) Now it is time for the South. It has been a little harder to hide covidly here because of less travel, more poverty and far less reporting, but what a hodgepodge of hiding spots, superstition, populism, conspiracy theories and disregard. Now prisons prove an added bonus – particularly in much of Latin America, where the system is overcrowded and inhumane.
14) A few jump on board. Colombia and Panama mandate lockdowns that limit your spread, but Ecuador – after years of populist rhetoric – lets you covidly hide on the street and in make-shift coffins in Guayaquil. Reporting of actual deaths is only theoretical.
15) And now a real win! Jair Bolsonaro – Brazil’s Evangelical president simply offers you a home. Win-win! Wipe out the poor, indigenous communities and anyone opposed to economic growth. Of course you have a tough time, being buried in mass graves, but at least Brazil never tests and therefore never attributes those thousands upon thousands of deaths to you. You are hiding covidly.
16) Vladimir Putin’s Russia follows suit, hiding – or accepting – thousands of deaths. Trump blames, China denies and millions die. A few societies unite. A few anti-vaccination nuts begin to accept actual science. The earth takes a little breather and then begins burning fossil fuels once again. Thousands starve in India.
17) Alas, you gradually morph and find home in migrant groups, poor seniors and outside of any testing. Your ultimate goal to carry on replicating is a grand success.