Three months after its origin in the Hubei province of China, Coronavirus has now taken the entire world by storm. Currently, Covid-19 has spread to 113 countries outside China- out of which Italy, South Korea and Iran are the worst affected. Italy alone has accounted for more than 1,000 deaths.
Coronavirus which is now causing mayhem outside China owes its origins to the unhygienic wet markets which are to be blamed for the spread of the virus.
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, civets, bats and pangolins.
It is these wet markets and the prolific conditions offered by them which led to the spread of the mysterious and deadly Covid-19.
Ever since the novel virus started spreading in Wuhan and other areas of China, Beijing has been found making a conscious attempt to downplay the issue.
The State media simply buried Covid-19 under the carpet, and the news of the Coronavirus was dropped to the fifth or sixth item in the 7 PM news bulletin.
While the Chinese State media was taking it casually, appealing for calm and lauding the official response to the epidemic, the Chinese social media told a different story.
In fact, such was the recklessness of the Chinese government that when the first case of coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, the ruling Communist Party tried to silence the voices of the doctors who had sounded out the alarm bells. More than containing the virus, Beijing was concerned about silencing critics and the Chinese delayed acting against the epidemic by almost two months.
China was always hesitant in allowing any information relating to the novel Coronavirus to come up before the rest of the world. In line with its crackdown on those speaking up about the dangers posed by the mysterious infection, Chinese doctor Li Wenliang who was one of the first whistleblowers who tried to warn about the Coronavirus had sadly succumbed to the virus after treating the patients of the virus. His voice was muzzled by the Chinese authorities and as China erupted in grief and anger, the state-run media squarely pinned the blame on local authorities.
The Chinese authorities continued the crackdown against those speaking up about the Coronavirus. Last month, two Chinese journalists, Chen Quishi and Fang Bin mysteriously disappeared. Their crime: exposing the real face of the Chinese government as they exposed its inability to tackle the virus at its epicentre in Wuhan.
Data sharing between governments is a critical factor in tackling such epidemics. But China, where the virus originated has been inhibiting the process. It is not only hiding the real picture, but is also harassing its own citizens if they speak up about the real threat posed by Covid-19.
Moreover, Beijing is continuously trying to shed responsibility. Amidst the growing intensity and space of the novel virus, it is crucial that its origin is tracked down at the earliest. All evidence points to the epicentre of the outbreak, Wuhan, where the virus is said to have originated.
But the Chinese government has sought to blame the United States instead. The Chinese government machinery is working overtime to deflect the blame. And this is exactly where the roots of the problem lie. A true picture and real data of the issue cannot emerge unless China where the virus originated owes up and starts sharing the real picture.
Even as the world grapples with the Coronavirus Pandemic, Beijing continues to hide data and refuses to cooperate, leaving the rest of the world to fend for itself.