It’s all over the news: the Coronavirus epidemic is spreading. Is it a true, global threat, or are we all overreacting? First some facts. The Coronavirus was first detected in the city of Wuhan, China, a few months ago. Since then it has spread to fifty countries. The Coronavirus produces a disease called Covid-19, which is very similar to the ordinary flu, with symptoms such as fever, coughing and sneezing. Although the flu can also be deadly, Covid-19 is more dangerous. So far some 82,000 people have caught it, and nearly 3,000 died. It must be noted that most of its victims were people already in poor health. In other words, a healthy person who contracts the virus will most likely recover from it. Indeed, some 80% of infected people report mild or no symptoms at all.
Reactions around the world
One of the problems of the Coronavirus is that, like the viruses that cause the flu, it can spread quickly, through the air, person to person. Sometimes it’s hard to detect, just because its effects are so similar to those of the flu. The ways to deal with this epidemic vary around the world. Public statements go from that of US president Donald Trump who claimed that the danger to Americans “remains very low,” to Australian prime minister Scott Morrison who said that the risk of a pandemic was “very much upon us.” In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the government is planning for “all eventualities” if the number of Coronavirus cases rise. For sure, many countries are taking measures against the spread of the virus, such as quarantining people from affected areas, cancelling public events or shutting down schools.
What needs to be done
These measures cannot stop the virus, but they are useful in slowing the contagion. This is very important because it allows the health care systems to deal with this emergency. There are not enough hospitals if too many people get sick at the same time. Correct information is also very important. For example, the UK is launching a mass public information campaign. Informing the public with solid science and good advice is a way to prevent mass panic and irrational behaviour. It is a problem, for example, if people hoard goods, medicines and surgical masks. It is more helpful, as the World Health Organization recommends, to take simple precautions to reduce exposure and transmission such as avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth and washing your hands regularly.
What cannot be overlooked about the Coronavirus outbreak are its side effects. What seems to be spreading faster than the virus is the fear of it. Some countries have stopped traveling to and trading with China and other countries affected by the virus. As a consequence, many businesses that rely on tourism or international trade are in trouble. Some analysts warn that the Coronavirus could trigger a new financial crisis. This irrational fear is also producing another, deadly virus: racism. In many places around the world Chinese people are accused of spreading the disease. There are also many reported cases of discrimination towards infected individuals. Finally, it should be noted that the Coronavirus is distracting people from other far more deadly problems, such as pollution, climate change and international conflicts. It’s time to face the Coronavirus epidemic with rationality and the right perspective.
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- first appeared in China.
- was created in Wuhan.
- produces the flu.
- not as dangerous as the flu.
- caused by sneezing and coughing.
- very similar to the flu.
- for people who are already weak and sick.
- for healthy people.
- for 80% of infected individuals.
- spreads slowly.
- is very contagious.
- is caused by Covid-19.
- very worried about the Coronavirus.
- more optimistic than prime minister Morrison.
- more pessimistic than prime minister Morrison.
- to stop the virus.
- to build more hospitals.
- to slow down the spread of the virus.
- hoard medicines and surgical masks.
- act rationally.
- listen to the World Health Organization.
- international relations.
- the World Health Organization.
- China alone.
- it’s making many people fearful, irrational and racist.
- it has produced a new financial crisis.
- many people are cancelling their trips to China.
- produce fewer casualties than the Coronavirus.
- are far less important than the Coronavirus epidemic.
- are more dangerous than the Coronavirus.
___ (Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: Pixabay, Pixabay)