New and Dangerous Trend: Intentionally Getting Infected with COVID-19
Martin does not trust politicians - neither the numbers they mention nor the data they share. He reads the newspapers, but he likes the “alternative information” he finds in telegram chats more. As soon as he heard that the coronavirus vaccine was being worked on, his first thought was that he would not get it. Martin says he has been thinking every day since if he was wrong, but he always concludes that he made the right decision.
When you want to intentionally get the coronavirus
Martin is 32 years old and lives in Hamburg, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). He has a child, enjoys going to bars and clubs and spends a lot of time outside. But when Hamburg introduced the 2G rule at the end of the summer (vaccinated and post-sick only), he began to fear. What will happen if they impose the same restrictions on his workplace? He does not want to buy a fake vaccination certificate because he does not consider it “morally justified”. An acquaintance of his tells him that he bought a fake positive PCR test and thus received the status of “post-sick”. But Martin doesn't want to do that either. The only option left for him is to become infected intentionally.
The man found a group in the chat application Telegram, in which people like him are looking for a coronavirus patient to meet them. Some are even willing to pay. One user said he was under stress from his employer. Others believe that a person cannot be infected with the coronavirus, so their endeavor seems pointless. Others ask someone to send them saliva in an envelope in the mail. Demand is greater than supply. But one of the group members, Dirk Schneider, wrote: “I have covid since recently and will share it. I'm from Lubeck.”
Timur from Switzerland tells how he stayed in a car with an infected person for over 1 hour. The patient coughed and sneezed, but nothing happened - Timur's result was negative. Now he is forced to stay at home all day and has no choice but to get infected. He does not believe that the “flu” can cause him anything because he “knows his body too well.”
One user advised Timur to use an ear stick to take a sample of an infected person, and then put it in his nose. Her friend did that. As a result, 15 people became infected. Some have been ill, others have not, but all have tested positive.
When a positive result brings “relief”
A few days later, another man from Switzerland appeared in the group, who tested positive. Timur offers to meet him. He performed the procedure with the ear stick, after three days his PCR test was positive. There are already symptoms. Timur brags in the group, others congratulate him, he offers to help several other users to get infected.
Martin is looking for someone from the Hamburg area to infect him. A woman contacts him and offers to send an acquaintance with whom to drink from the same glass. Martin agrees, but then gets scared and refuses the meeting.
A week later, Martin's friends contacted him - all sick with mild symptoms. The two families meet for several days. Then they isolate themselves “out of respect for other people”, and Martin's girlfriend gives a positive result in the quick test. His, however, is negative – “very disappointing.” So he goes to have a PCR test and just before that he wipes his nose with his girlfriend's handkerchief. The result is positive Martin is now “completely relieved”.
The favorite platform of covid skeptics, anti-vaxxers and the far-right
The Telegram has become a favorite platform for far-right and conspiracy theorists, said Julia Smirnova of the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue. In addition to hate speech and anti-Semitism, Telegram also contains direct calls for violence against politicians, students and business representatives. Most of these calls are from East Germany, but are also found in the western provinces.
In some groups in North Rhine-Westphalia, you can find comments like this: “Perpetrators must receive punishments that would be present in history textbooks even after 200 years. Comparable to the Nuremberg trials.” Another group says, “the best thing is to have a quick execution right after the sentence.” It's about the American immunologist Anthony Fauci.
The strategy for attracting members of these groups is different. For example, videos of demonstrations against measures or vaccines are often published. “This way, people feel they are not alone,” Smirnova explains. Emotional language is also used. The police are called “mercenaries”, the German state – “dictatorship”. “In this way, violence against government officials is legitimized in these channels,” Smirnova said.
These chats mix a heterogeneous group of people - covid skeptics, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, esotericists, far-right. But unlike Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, there are no legal requirements for the platform to take action against illegal content, as it is considered a chat application and not a social network. Attempts by the German government to start a dialogue with Telegram have not been responded to by the platform, which is headquartered in Dubai.
/Dnevnik /Deutsche Welle
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