The global epidemic threatening the world at the moment is one that has made the entire human race realise how helpless we still continue to be even in the face of pompous self assertions and haughty resilience. We are living in an age where the expanse of advancements have had far flung reaches. Be it our supposed resistance to natural calamities or endemic disorders or even the irony in having to deal with such threats that emerge out of our own mindlessness and clamour, we fancy our own chances at survival. And yet, all it takes is a bout of flu to remind the world how very united in misery we continue to be.
That’s exactly what has been grabbing world attention for some couple of months now, with the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic taking a toll on pretentious world standards. Epicentered in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which have lent the virus its Wuhan coronavirus name, the epidemic is already declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization with 89,000 registered cases across more than 35 countries promptly asserting its deadly status.
The coronavirus disease COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 which makes it easy to identify it as an epidemic that have been wrought by the same group of virus that had also been responsible for the outbreak of the deadly 2003 SARS as also the 2012 MERS epidemics. Believed to have a zoonotic origin owing to its linking with China’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, the novel coronavirus has affected people exhibiting symptoms of the flue that which can include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, or muscle pain though there have been asymptomatic cases as well. However beyond the common occurrences that characterise the common flu, the pandemic is also known to lead to organ failure as well mainly with its high intensity functioning which is what has rendered it more than just a normal bout of cold and cough. And indeed, with a death rate of almost 3% as compared to that of less than 1% for the common flu, the coronavirus is much more than those few sneezes and sniffs.
Understandably stemming from animals as growing connections with the Huanan Seafood Market has established, the coronavirus however also has a human to human transmission risk. Respiratory droplets produced from the respiratory tract are mostly responsible for the transmission of the virus that which takes anywhere between 1 to 14 incubation days for the virus to show its presence.
Timeline of the outbreak
Though reporting of coronavirus cases did not hog the public limelight until atleast the 31st of December, 2019, there indeed has been cases that could be tracked back to sometime around the mid of December. In fact Chinese state broadcaster CCTV in a braodcast airing on 12th January, 2020 stated that the first detected new viral outbreak had ocurred exactly a month earlier on the 12th of December. However, the first cluster of patients with pneumonia from an unknown source was reported on the 21st of December as per an article dated 1st January, 2020 by Chinese epidemiologists with the Chinese Center for Disease Control.
A more prominent facet that arose out of the hullabaloo centering the coronovirus outbreak manifested when Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital in Wuhan, China, became the first person to publicly speak about the mysterious virus resulting in being warned by Chinese officials for allegedly spreading false information. Dr. Li himself tested positive for the deadly coronavirus on 30 January 2020 after some 20 days of contracting flu like symptoms including dry cough and fever. He eventually passed away on 7th February but is heralded as a whistleblower who exposed the efforts of the government to cover up early efforts concerning the coronavirus, resulting possibly in its wide spread across the globe.
The first confirmed case of the coronavirus outside mainland China was reported on the 13th of January, 2020 by Thailand where the affected person was identified as a 61 year old Chinese woman from Wuhan who had arrived in the country on the 8th of January. But way before the virus had spread to other regions of the world, China mourned the first death attributable to the virus on 9th January when a 61 year old man who had been a regular visitor to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market succumbed to the disease. The first death outside China was reported on February 2.
In the face of rapidly increasing number of cases in China as also elsewhere and also more reported cases of death, the coronavirus outbreak was declared a major health emergency by the World Health Organisation on 30th of January, 2020. The extent of deadliness of the corona virus was further asserted when the number of deaths in China alone stood at 908 as reported on the 10th of February, which was greater than the death toll of 774 induced by the killer SARS virus worldwide in 2003.
Repercussions of the coronavirus outbreak
The coronavirus outbreak has had far reaching consequences even outside its fore as a ravaging epidemic. The epicenter of the outbreak being Wuhan, the Chinese city of more than 11 million was cut off by Chinese authorities even as the Trump administration in the US restricted travel not only from China but also barred all foreign people who had recently been to the Asian country from entering the States. Even food restrictions and regulations ensued in China, with officials drafting legislation to end “the pernicious habit of eating wildlife”, that which had likely triggered the coronavirus outbreak amongst humans.
Even the global economy is in doldrums what with travel industry and the air industry suffering unprecedented shocks and trade activities seriously constrained in an effort to stop the coronavirus from spreading. And with the epicenter being China, one of the rapidly emerging economies of the world at present, the strategic loss of wealth can well be gauged. As stock markets continue to plummet and the world stares headlong into perhaps one of the worst lowdowns in history, one things is quite evident- the deadly virus is more than just a health pandemic.
What started off as an ailment that could debilitate the human race physically soon began to spell disaster for global finances as well. From seriously limiting the ambit of businesses to slashing interest rates, the health of the world economy sure is in as dire straits as are the world citizens. And yet, it isn’t just the direct impact of the coronavirus outbreak that will likely spell disaster for all of us.
In a really appalling breakout of sorts, the coronavirus is bringing doom to some namesake businesses that while might not have been an extension of the xenophobia and racism the deadly outbreak has also led to, might still be a hard assertion of the certain soft power it has been exerting. And with a reputed global brand like the Corona beer as casualty, it’s clear the deadly potential harboured by this disease is indeed more than what the world has been capable of conceiving.
With an unintended and unfortunate resemblance to the name of the coronavirus, the Corona beer has bear the burnt of the skepticism of many, with 38% of beer drinking Americans saying they won’t be drinking a Corona the next time. A reported loss of $170 million means that the brand is seeing its worst quarter in 10 years stemming from its once iconic but now doomed name. Add to that the panic among the greater public that has rendered them to almost give up the nightlife and stick to barely surviving and it’s apparent how Corona beer and its allies and compatriots are probably making it through all the furore, much like the hapless world itself. Mourning the demise of the coronavirus sounds like a far inviting proposition than sweating it out over the gradual decline of the Corona beer, but is the present world really ready for it? Once again, it’s only time that will tell.