Topics : Taking control Economists have also suggested people may be trying to eliminate one risk that is relatively easy and superficial, rather than doing something more costly that may reduce their risk a greater amount.This is known as “Zero risk bias.””My guess is we want to feel in control and have limited budgets,” said Farasat Bokhari, a health economist at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain.”So we go buy something that is cheap to buy, that we can store, and we know at the back of our minds that we are going to use anyway,” he said. A more expensive but necessary item to stock might be non-perishable food — but if frozen meals, canned foods and ramen aren’t exactly your favorites, you could be stuck with a big bill for items you eventually throw away, should the worst fail to materialize.According to Taylor, many of the behaviors we see now also occurred in previous pandemics, including the Spanish flu in 1918, which killed almost 700,000 Americans and sent panicked citizens to stores and pharmacies to hoard goods.Some at the time even floated the conspiracy theory the virus may have been a bioweapon devised by Germany. The new coronavirus has been called a Chinese weapon and an American bioweapon, depending on who is making the accusation.One key difference between the current pandemic and those before it is the ubiquity of social media — the swine flu pandemic of 2009 happened when the medium was still relatively new — and Taylor sees both pluses and negatives.”That’s enabled the reverberations of dramatic images and videos throughout the world, inflating people’s sense of threat and urgency,” said Taylor.On the other hand, “Social media can be great for social support, particularly if you’re in self isolation.”So are we destined for a breakdown in social cohesion if the pandemic stretches out? History says no, said Taylor.”Rioting and bad behavior in previous pandemics has been relatively uncommon — it has happened, there have been outbreaks, but the main response has been one of order, of people coming together, of solidarity, helping each other out and doing their best as a community to deal with this.” “And so I think this is one reason they latched on to the toilet paper, because it’s a means of avoiding disgust.” But this doesn’t explain it entirely — toilet paper can’t save you from infection, and we haven’t yet seen the same level of hoarding for more key items like canned foods — so something else is clearly afoot.”I think it probably stuck out in the dramatic images in social media because it was quite clear, the packets are quite distinctive and it’s become associated in the minds of people as a symbol of safety,” Steven Taylor, author of “The Psychology of Pandemics” told AFP.”People feel the need to do something to keep themselves and their family safe, because what else can they do apart from wash their hands and self-isolate?” added the psychiatry professor at the University of British Columbia.Another theory Taylor put forward is rooted in our evolutionary aversion to things which disgust us, heightened when people feel threatened with infection. It’s a scene that’s become familiar around the world: From the US to France to Australia, rows of empty supermarket shelves where toilet paper used to be, the result of coronavirus-induced panic buying.What exactly is it about the rolls of tissue that has caused mayhem across cultures, including at times violent clashes that have reverberated on social media?At its most basic, say experts, the answer lies in game theory: If everyone buys only what they need, there will be no shortages. If some people start panic buying, the optimal strategy will be for you to follow suit, to make certain you have enough squares to spare.
She was anxious about the risk of contagion on public transportation.The 40-year-old contract employee of a ministry decided to wear a pair of fabric gloves during her commute in addition to a face mask.“Because I have children at home — one of whom is a toddler,” she said. “That’s why I am more prepared when boarding the train.”State-owned commuter line operator PT KCI made it a requirement for passengers to wear face masks inside the station and on the train when the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) were first imposed in April. Passengers not wearing a mask will be prohibited from using their services. Fabric gloves and other protective gear for passengers are optional. This article is part of The Jakarta Post’s “Forging the New Norm” special coverage series on how people are forging their lives anew to adjust to the new realities of COVID-19 in Indonesia.As the Jakarta administration gradually eases COVID-19 social restrictions and reopens certain business sectors, people are preparing themselves for a safe commute on public transit.Triastuti boarded a commuter line train to her office in Jakarta for the first time last Thursday after two months working remotely from her house in Tigaraksa, Banten. “I wear [fabric gloves] so that I do not come into direct contact with surfaces. Many people may have touched, for instance, handrails. Who knows, they might be carrying the disease,” Triastuti said.The Jakarta administration began loosening restrictions last Friday by allowing houses of worship to reopen, while offices and shops resumed operation at half capacity on Monday. The reopening has caused a surge of passengers at several commuter line stations during rush hours, according to local media reports.Read also: Bustling Jakarta returns with vengeance as lockdown easesTo cope with the increasing number of passengers, KCI, Transjakarta, as well as the MRT and LRT have now extended operational hours and the number of trips.Besides continuing to enforce mandatory mask-wearing on public transit, the commuter line operator is also introducing additional health protocols in its facilities, including a ban on elderly people boarding trains during rush hours and a blanket ban on infants. All rail operators are advising passengers on trains to avoid talking directly with fellow passengers or making phone calls on the grounds that the virus spreads through droplets. The number of passengers allowed to enter each car is also limited.Floribertus Oni, 54, a private employee who cannot afford to work from home during the pandemic, has long been alarmed by the risk of contagion on mass transit.Oni works in a logistics and transportation company in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, one of the essential sectors allowed to remain operational during the PSBB and the city’s current transition to a “new normal”.He always wore a mask when commuting from Serpong in South Tangerang, Banten, to his office in the past two months. But as he observed the number of commuter line passengers increasing day by day after the Idul Fitri holiday in late May, he said he would consider wearing more protection.“I do not think it is necessary for now. But at some point in the near future, wearing a face shield and gloves will be necessary,” Oni said. “Many passengers will cram into the train, even the security might find it difficult to control the situation.”Transportation experts were cautious about the potential surge in the use of private vehicles, particularly motorcycles, after Jakarta relaxed restrictions, as people feared getting infected while using public transportation.Read also: No odd-even policy yet during transition period, Anies saysBut commuting by motorcycle is not an option for Triastuti, who must travel over 35 kilometers from her house to her office in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta.Oni, meanwhile, cited high fuel prices and exhausting driving as reasons why he did not drive his car to work.Theresia Ajun, 54, has seen a face shield as mandatory for commuting in the past month. “I feel something is missing if I only wear a face mask. I have to be more cautious because of my age. I am in the age group vulnerable to COVID-19.”Before the pandemic, Theresia commuted around three times a week from Maja in Banten to Grogol Petamburan in West Jakarta to take care of her grandchildren. When the outbreak hit the country, she reduced the frequency of her visits to once a week.Read also: Curbing transmission on public transport not as simple as banning passengers: ExpertsAs cities began gradually easing restrictions, she said she hoped all commuters would implement health protocols as mandated by public transport operators.Around 3.2 million Greater Jakarta residents are commuters, according to the 2019 Greater Jakarta Commuter Survey by Statistics Indonesia (BPS). Of that figure, 2.5 million are office workers who commute daily.Some urbanites such as Fitra Andika, 33, prefer commuting to work by bike to avoid possible crowds when using public transit. Fitra had relied on the Transjakarta buses before the outbreak hit Indonesia. His employer is implementing temporary work shifts to prevent contagion.Deddy Herlambang from Transportation Study Institute (INSTRAN) said traffic congestion, air pollution and the traffic accident rate would worsen if not addressed properly. “Unlike during the previous phases of PSBB, congestion might now return to the city roads, thus worsening air pollution. [Exposure to air pollution] would weaken people’s immunity.”Jakarta has long struggled with traffic congestion, with private vehicles making up over 70 percent of vehicle use in the city. Many believe this has contributed to the dirty air in the capital.Deddy suggested that public transportation operators improve hygiene and deploy more workers across the transit networks to report overcrowding and assist passengers in applying physical distancing in order to lure people back to public transit, at the same time protecting them from the disease.Topics :