- Azad muallim, how do you assess the psychological state of society during the pandemic?

Azad İsazadə - In general, several situations arose during the pandemic. There are several forms of reaction, both in individuals and in society. One of them is fear, phobia. People are afraid of getting the disease. People do not go out, do not touch anything, do not let anyone into the house or near. And they periodically panic during the day. Its conventional name is coronaphobia. The second is more specific to the masses. Fear and anxiety in the first stage are replaced by indifference. People get tired of being afraid. As a protective instinct, they think the opposite. They do not protect themselves, do not accept some rules, and do what they want. The third form is probably not related to the pandemic. But there is a group of people who can not stay indoors for long. It is also associated with panic attacks, claustrophobia. During the quarantine period, they feel very bad when they stay indoors. In addition, if those people live in a crowded, noisy house, they will be bored, anxious, and unable to find a place for themselves. When a panic attack comes, those people must go out into the air. These three forms are more common in the community.

- What does it mean that people attacked the markets and emptied all the counters before the government imposed a curfew last Saturday and Sunday? Is it because people don't trust the government's decisions (that is, the government might extend the curfew period again on Sunday and they would be caught unprepared), or are there other reasons?

- I think that a two-day complete curfew will not bring about a change from an epidemiological point of view. The number of infections may be less in two days. But this does not mean that we can completely extinguish the pandemic in two days. This could be seen as a temporary step at the beginning of the pandemic. In the current situation, this will not be so effective. This measure was taken simply because they could not prevent the virus. It will not be possible to prevent this with this measure. Other measures need to be taken. For example, during the previous quarantine period, customers’ hands were being disinfected with alcohol in the markets, people were keeping a safe distance between them, disinfectants were placed on the buses. Then all of them disappeared. Such events were more important than keeping people at home. This must be explained to the people, a campaign must be carried out.

We had seen the emptying of markets, the attack of people on the markets in other countries at the beginning of the pandemic. We were still proud to say that we did not have such a thing. At that time, there were really not such things in our country. There is distrust in the government's decisions on this issue. It was not fully explained to the population that this was only a two-day event. People didn't believe it. The softening of quarantine itself took place at a time when the disease was on the rise. The population thought that the steps taken were illogical. Therefore, they are not sure what will be decided tomorrow.

- What did the strict quarantine regime announced by the government on Saturday-Sunday show us? The treatment of people by the police, as well as the treatment of the police by people, the aggressive treatment of people by the police, as well as the aggressive attitude of citizens to the police, throwing garbage at them, etc. What does all this mean?

- It is a complicated question. It is difficult to react objectively to what happened. Emotions play a role here. Let's divide this issue into two parts. First, let's look at the topic from the government’s side. The government made a decision rightly or wrongly. Citizens must comply with this decision. Control over the implementation of the decision has been transferred to the power structure. It is clear that they were given a specific order regarding the decision. We are talking about the form of that order. There was an order during the previous quarantine period. We saw during that SMS period that the police walked around the city, approached people, explained, but did not use force. So this time the order was given more sharply. That is, no one should go out. But the government has not thought of many details about the people here. The problem of fresh air for people with panic attacks, pregnant women, sick people, citizens throwing garbage, hot weather, and so on. Such complications arose because they did not think about it. The police carried out orders given to them. The only difference is that the police detained a citizen who violated the quarantine rules as if they had caught a criminal. They used physical force against the citizen. And these actions provoked the opposite reaction. In the videos spread on social networks, we saw the opposite reaction to the police. Because people believe that they are being unfairly kept at home; moreover, the police use physical force to abduct a citizen who goes out. And here the second issue comes to the fore. A similar incident occurred recently in the United States and the whole country is now on its feet. There, a man named George Floyd died as a result of the use of physical force by the police. The whole United States stood up in protest of the police action. Protests have even begun in Europe. The authorities are trying to put an end to these protests on the spot because they are afraid that such actions will also start in our country. But as a result, the situation is tense. Everyone is already nervous. Both police and citizens. It is necessary to ease the tension.

- The fact that police treated citizens as if they were serious criminals and their physical violence created the impression that they were instructed to increase people's fear and apprehension. But there is another version that they deliberately irritate people with this government and its decisions. That is, they are to make the population, which is already emotional and aggressive due to the situation, more aggressive. Which of these versions is more logical? And what are the consequences of this situation?

- There are many versions we can say. I have just referred to the processes taking place in the United States. I would like to give an example of one of the processes taking place in Russia. The young man, who was supposed to steal two or three rolls of wallpaper, was shot by police at his home. But there were no protests in Russia. In practice, it is very similar to what happened in the United States. That is, the two societies reacted differently to a similar event. There must be a protest in society to turn it into protest action. It is incorrect to say that people in Azerbaijan are ready to take to the streets to protest. It does not appear yet. Although there are protest-minded people in society, society is not ready for active actions yet. We can accept the provocative version as the version. But it is difficult to say what this will lead to. Aside from the political side, I can say from a psychological point of view that society is not ready to protest. It is an immature process. Let's hope it doesn't grow mature, and there will be no large-scale, non-peaceful protests like the ones in the United States.

- Wouldn't the situation be aggravated by putting a lot of police on the residents of the building, who threw garbage at the police, a day later?

- They are just trying not to turn the processes into those in the United States. They frighten the population. They will try to prevent the recurrence of such cases by taking strict measures. During the previous quarantine period, people were able to move freely during SMS permissions. They were often not seriously inspected. After such gentle behavior, sudden harsh treatment of people can also lead to harsh reactions.

- What would you suggest to the government and the people so that the psychological situation does not worsen during the pandemic?

- It is not difficult to suggest. Everyone should do their best to protect themselves from the virus. People must be given accurate and complete information. In the past week, there have been reports of infection from kith and kin. We have been in an unusual situation for three months, and in some cases, we have received information that someone has been infected. The data is very dry and people do not believe in numbers. They need concrete, convincing information. It is said that 57% of those infected are in Baku. This makes me a little nervous. But if there is information about the number of infected people near me, in the area where I live, I will be even more careful. So there are two points here. There is a concept of medical secrecy. But we must understand that the pandemic is not just a medical problem. It is also a social problem. To change our social behavior, we need to receive comprehensive information. When there is no information, it is replaced by other information. That is rumors arise. Rumors affect the epidemiological situation. Therefore, the campaign must change today. The campaign carried out is not enough. It is necessary to work on this campaign and change some forms. Forcing people to stay home by force alone will not solve the problem.


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