Like SARS-CoV which erupted in Nov 2002 this epidemic COVID-19 started in small way in December 2019. These months are starting of the winter in that part of the world.
By Ashish Gore
The world is witnessing the havoc and turmoil created by an animal virus which mutated into human bodies and its exponential and gigantic outbreak has erupted into a massive epidemic. The whole world is in panic in general while China, in particular, is completely out of the saddle. While many different views, perspectives, stories and even rumours are surfacing to zero in on the right root cause of the outbreak the damage it is causing and fear it is spreading is so very high. The pain and torment of the people, who lost their lives or who got infected and undergoing treatment or recovered is being observed with fearfulness and scary sensitivity. In all the global mood is very gloomy and depressive and photos, videos, stories related to outbreak creating deep hysteria and uncertainty.
While the whole Dragon is under the mask to prevent the spread of the virus the outbreak also throws open the questions about the origin of this man-made calamity. I see this as overrun of human beings on nature. The culture, the habits, dietary preferences all should be preserved and nurtured to enhance the natural harmony but when the balance is disturbed the human bodies are susceptible and vulnerable. The omnivorous human beings can- not go to the other extreme of carnivorous eating habits and as and when the line is crossed nature takes its own revenge. Perceived as exotic food locally is the suspected source of origin of the Novel Coronavirus (now named as COVID-19) which mutated in human beings in the City of Wuhan of Hubei Province of China. The tiny virus has become the monster to challenge the human beings reminding the demon Bhasmasura of Indian mythology.
Is this happening for the first time answer is big NO. This is really shame to the all of us as human beings that we ignore the lessons learnt in the past. Nature overrun then also had erupted in to epidemic called SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus) in year Nov 2002 till year Jul 2003. Cave dwelling Horseshoe Bats were the possible cause of animal virus which mutated in human bodies then. That time it was Guangdong province of China which was epicenter affecting 8,096 people and it had very severe fatality rate of close to 10% killing around 800 people in several countries. That was different era so like in any epidemic the questions on the transparency and accuracy of data related to casualties remained unanswered or not adequately explained. Even after SARS-CoV there were instances in last 17 years in which virus outbreak happened in poultry birds but fortunately some of the outbreaks were contained and it did not reach human beings but at the cost of thousands of poultry birds, which were maimed. We kept on challenging and overrunning the nature to fulfill avarice of taste buds. Now we see the backlash from nature which put the globe under severe situation as today. Unfortunately lessons ignored, inadequate sustainable actions, mitigation measures not implemented to fullest out of SARS is taking a big toll now.
Like SARS-CoV which erupted in Nov 2002 this epidemic COVID-19 started in small way in December 2019. These months are starting of the winter in that part of the world. SARS-CoV peaked in January and February months and we can see similar pattern this time as well. The fatality rate so far is 2% much lower than that of SARS-CoV yet it has affected already 73000 people which is 9 times higher. The magnitude to handle is far more complicated this time. The response this time was more quick, sharp and transparent. Chinese Government put quarantine measures in epicenter, put the city under lockdown, restricted the movement of the people and that too during the period of 40 days long Spring festival period popularly known as Chinese New year. This 40 days period witnesses maximum non-war time temporary migration
every year during which millions of Chinese rushes to their native places from their place of work to celebrate the New year and carry forward the emotional and valued reunion dinners with family and relatives together. Authorities were aware that if that they allow the normal Spring festival like movement of the people then they might have to handle outbreak of multifold dimensions so they acted decisively and the residents responded immaculately. Chinese Government sharpen the machinery for the warlike emergency and tried their best to curtail the spread as much as possible. The air links, trains, road transport restricted from affected areas and put adequate measures to check people to people contact and danger of contamination. The economic might of China helped them to deploy the thermal temperature scanners, virus test kits for pre-scanning at millions of connect points in incredibly fast pace. The hospital was put up in record 10 days in Wuhan as was done during SARS-CoV and it epitomized the spirited fightback and determination to bounce back.
The medical teams are deployed from all parts of China to the most affected areas. The dedication of them to support and help the affected people is exemplary, well and truly represented by Dr. Li Wenliang who sacrificed his own life on duty. The heroics of medical support staff working in that severely stressful environment without sleep for days, fully covered in Hazmat suits using diapers for a call of nature and writing names on the back for identifying each other as well female nurses shaving heads to wear medical caps shows the commitment and determination towards duty, people and country. Those who are in other cities of China apart from Wuhan are closely following the situation in their neighbourhood and societies, citizens are moving out only when it is essential and wearing mandatory face masks. The supplies of N95 mask which is most effective as per specialists is regulated on per day basis and the same is working efficiently. There is proper monitoring of travel made and people are not allowed to change seats even in an empty plane so that data of who travelled with whom is captured accurately. In case someone is affected out of travel immediate isolation and quarantine is mandatory, self- temperature checking, thermal temperature scanners at public points and residential complexes are new daily norms at the moment in China. This situation can only be overcome with sustained efforts and discipline which China is showing today. Citizen’s participation is very important as not hoarding key resources, following strict hygiene-related guidelines, showing high degree of patience, self-quarantine, and isolations are precious steps which lead to achieve final objective of overcoming the epidemic.
The economic might of China has increased exponentially if we compare the SARS-CoV time and COVID-19 time. In year 2003 China’s economy was 1.33 Trillion USD which by 2019 has swollen in the meantime to 15 Trillion USD. China was on spot number 6 in Country GDP list in the year 2003 which is now on Spot number 2. The presence of foreign nationals, foreign direct investment has risen to very high number in last 17 years and therefore bouncing back of China to normal is very much essential for Global economy. While current effort is mostly to arrest the outbreak the impact on economy, impact on products, parts, services etc. out of China will have major impact
for next 5-6 months and as Hubei province is one of the major manufacturing hub for many products the hit on businesses will imminent so that need to be evaluated clearly. This is self-created epidemic as far as China is concerned but one thing is absolutely clear in my mind that only China like country with its economic wealth, resolute determination and steely perseverance can combat the virus threat of this high magnitude. They have money to buy and deploy resources and they have highly spirited citizens who got the nerves to fight it out. Many
countries would struggle to put up this fight and that is a big positive for China to overcome this crisis. While major impact is in China so far but the deadly virus already travelled to 24 odd Countries and similar or adequate measures to curtail and mitigate. The panic created by social media is virtual but threat is real and it can reach our neighborhood and hence all of us has to be vigilant. In turbulent world today Indian ethos of “Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam” is the best way to help each other and show solidarity to those suffering. “Whichever part of world we live we have one common roof which is blue sky” so let’s wish those who are in pain today to overcome… Spirit of displayed by city of epicenter is very encouraging even in this hour of turmoil… “Wuhan JIAYOU” (“WUHAN STAY STRONG…)
(Views expressed by author are personal.)