Coronavirus takes its toll

Luke Wright, Leopard Life Co Editor

Fear has erupted around the world as cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus rise outside of China, reaching a total of several thousand infected individuals.

“If this spreads widely like the common cold, not even China can control the common cold,” said former director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tom Frieden.

Potential danger of the disease becoming a pandemic has been recognized, and extreme precautions have been taken around the world. Travel bans have been put in place, and hundreds of people have been placed into quarantine after travelling from China over the past weeks. 

“The deaths still appear to be in people who are at risk of dying of other respiratory diseases — elderly and people with underlying health conditions,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an infectious disease expert.

The Novel Coronavirus symptoms contain are coughing, shortness of breath, and a fever, making it a respiratory disease. It can lead to the total collapse of one’s respiratory system. The incubation period, or time taken for symptoms to begin showing, is estimated to be anywhere from 2-14 days after being infected.

If the province was not sealed off, some people would have gone all around the country to try to get medical help, and it would have turned the whole nation into an epidemic-stricken area,” said Yang Gonghuan, former deputy director general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus has claimed a total of 361 lives in China, with several scattered cases in other countries including the United States. It has become a national emergency, and massive hospitals have been built within days across China. An entire province in China, Hubei, has also been evacuated to serve as shelter for hospitals and quarantine.

“This outbreak is a lesson for us. On a global scale, human population density, wildlife diversity, and land use change is what drives new pandemics,” said Dr. Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance.

The CDC has been working days on end to develop a vaccine for the virus. What we do know is that it originated from close interactions with animals, most likely in a wild animal market. 

“Past viral outbreaks have typically resulted in short, sharp shocks to economic output,” said Goldman Sachs, investment bank and financial services company.

With China paralyzed from the outbreak, one of the largest economic world powers is suffering. The country is key to the manufacturing of products from huge companies including Apple. Its tourism industry is also expected to take a large hit over the next few months.

Our message to the international community is invest today or pay more later,” said chief of The World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

This is not the first large outbreak in the past few decades, and many can recall the fear that both the Ebola and SARS viruses caused in us all. The diseases are no longer a real danger to anyone but only after thousands of lives were lost. Governments around the world are trying to prevent this from becoming a pattern with the coronavirus by increasing efforts to put an end to it. 

“Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread,” said the CDC.

The World Health Organization tells us that to better protect ourselves from the disease it is best to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth and to wash hands with an alcohol based soap or wipe.

Fear is worse than any virus. It’s not the right way to deal with the pandemic,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

As we must be constantly alert of the danger, we must also remain calm and prevent ourselves from making irrational assumptions which cause panic and fright.