The spread of Coronavirus in China’s Wuhan, the capital of Central China’s Hubei province, has emerged as a big threat for the entire human race. The virus which was reported by Chinese Medical authorities two weeks ago has spread exponentially within the country and beyond.
The mysterious new virus, which has infected more than 800 people in China, has led to a lockdown in the country with travel restrictions in more than 13 cities covering 35 million people. However, the restrictions do not seem to have prevented the virus from going beyond China.
Coronavirus, a cousin of the cause of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that had resulted in the death of almost 800 people around 17 years ago, has spread beyond China affecting United States, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Macau, Japan and the Philippines. Singapore and Vietnam too have confirmed first cases of the deadly virus. 14 people are being tested for Coronavirus in the United Kingdom.
Two people who returned to Mumbai from China too have been kept under special observation for possible exposure to the mysterious virus. 39 Indians are stuck in Wuhan, where there is a complete curb on mobility. While 25 students, out of whom 20 are from Kerala are stuck in Wuhan, another 14 are stuck in Yichang city, around 300 km from Wuhan.
What makes the virus that much more dangerous is the fact that while initially it was believed that it spreads only from animals to humans, it is now confirmed that it is also transmissible among humans. And as evident from the rising cases, it is vulnerable to transmission at an exponential rate.
It is the unhygienic wet markets which are to be blamed for the spread of the virus known as 2019-nCov. In fact, it was first reported from amongst those who shopped or worked at a wet market in Wuhan.
In fact, China has been the hotbed of many such deadly infections in the past too. Sixty years ago, the Asian influenza has spread from China. The SARS too had originated in China towards the fag end of 2003.
To be specific, the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan is believed to be the cause of the source from where the Coronavirus originated. The Wildlife Conservation Society has stated, “Poorly regulated, live animal markets mixed with illegal wildlife trade offer a unique opportunity for viruses to spillover from wildlife hosts into the human population.”
China’s wet markets, where outdoor stalls are cramped together forming narrow lanes thronged by visitors and sellers, was also the cause behind the 2003 SARS outbreak. Meat in such markets is sold alongside living animals like dogs, hares and civets.
These markets also sell exotic animals like skinned hare, glistening fish and shrimp. It is the close contact between human beings and a variety of exotic animals, both living and dead, such as dogs, chickens, pigs, snakes, civets, etc. which makes China’s wet markets the breeding ground for deadly and mysterious infections.
The unhygienic conditions offered by these markets offer to create perfect circumstances for the spread of the virus from animals to human beings. Even in the case of the 2003 SARS outbreak, the virus had jumped from bats, the original hosts, to other animals, which then ended up infecting human beings.
However, while the repercussions of the Coronavirus have already gone beyond China, the Dragon has sought to simply downplay the issue. While the issue is making headlines all over the world, the Chinese State media has ignored it altogether.
Take for instance Friday’s frontage of the Chinese Communist party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, which displayed only warm wishes for lunar new year’s eve from China President Xi Jinping.
Similarly, digital media hasn’t paid much attention either. The news of the virus has been buried during the prime time CCTV news. Coronavirus has been dropped to the fifth or sixth item in the 7 PM news bulletin.
In fact, Chinese efforts to downplay Coronavirus seem to go much deeper than just blocking media coverage. While the Chinese State media has downplayed the issue, appealing for calm and lauding the official response to the epidemic, the Chinese social media tells a completely different story. Given the curbs in China, it is only that matter which is somehow evading censors and slipping through accidentally.
A video from a hospital in Wuhan …
i am so speechless，just look at the crowd… it only takes one real patient of #WuhanCoronavirus to doom everyone else on the site!#Wuhan #WuhanPneumonia #WuhanOutbreak pic.twitter.com/eivOno6Soh
— 巴丢草 Badiucao (@badiucao) January 23, 2020
— XQ (@MissXQ) January 23, 2020
The videos, which China is trying to dismiss as “rumours” expose the lack of treatment facility to the affected people, and also suggest that the Coronavirus might be even deadlier than what it seems to be. In fact, there could be a plethora of undetected cases in Wuhan itself.
Experts have made it clear that there is no cure for Coronavirus and Adrian Hyzler, the chief medical officer at Healix International, which offers risk-management solutions for global travellers has said, “If there is a vaccine, it’ll take years.”
The Coronavirus is turning out to be a deadly threat for the human race at large, but the People’s Republic of China remains in denial mode. Beijing’s denial despite clear evidence of the epidemic going out of control is illustrative of the Communist psyche that supports opaqueness.
Even after the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear accident in human history, the erstwhile Soviet Union had remained in denial mode after the catastrophe took place. The matter did not come out immediately as Soviet officials had remained silent and did not elaborate much about the details of the deadly accident.
One hopes that better sense prevails and Beijing finally comes out telling the rest of the world about the details of the disaster that has taken birth somewhere in the wet markets of Wuhan.