Stuart Ralph: Military rhetoric may undermine efforts to control the virus

Associate Professor Stuart Ralph and Dr Mark Stoové examine government messaging as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Governments around the world have enacted unprecedented responses to minimise the spread of COVID-19 to preserve both individual health and health systems.

In enacting these responses, governments have repeatedly used rhetoric invoking notions of war. Often they’ve painted the virus as an “invader” and a “wicked enemy”, explains A/Prof Ralph of the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology and Dr StoovĂ©, Head of HIV/STI research at the Burnet Institute.

Such language was arguably useful to help mobilise resources and underscore the seriousness of the situation to the community.

However, ongoing use of military rhetoric, war metaphors and, in some cases, the direct involvement of military personnel in public health communication and local responses may undermine efforts to control the virus — especially among communities most vulnerable to COVID.

Read more in The Conversation