Hysteria surrounding epidemics is not a new topic, with the Ebola outbreak of 2014 being the most recent example. However, the extent to which the new Coronavirus has affected us greatly contrasts much of the reports and posts that we view online. Is there cause for concern here on Campus? Here’s what we know so far.
According to the World Health Organization, the Coronavirus outbreak originated from the congested Hubei province of China in the capital city of Wuhan, and since then, cases have been reported in 26 different countries spanning 5 different continents, with over 70,000 confirmed cases and over 2,000 fatalities, with a vast amount of data coming from China itself. That being said, countries with developing healthcare standards, such as India, Malaysia, and Middle Eastern countries, are much more susceptible to fatalities and contagion. Although the World Health Organization also cites that the virus has little chance to affect first-world countries like the U.S, Robert Levin of the Department of Public Health in Ventura County released a mandated statement that cited risks for any students who have recently traveled back from China, specifically Hubei. So, while the virus itself should be of little concern to the staff and students here on campus, there are developing details about the infection that are, in fact, concerning.
Emerging reports from sources such as the Financial Times reveal that China’s government has done its best to conceal the true details of reported fatalities and infections, and has denied itself a role in a global effort to manufacture a vaccine. Allegedly, President Xi Jinping was even aware of the virus two weeks before initial reporting began, and issued orders to contain the disease on Jan. 7, 13 days before the outbreak’s severity was known to the public. Videos have also surfaced from “ground-zero,” or the city of Wuhan itself, of distressed parents and children who were denied treatment from the over encumbered state hospitals. Although the numbers and statistics of the outbreak are heavily questionable, they are currently all we have to go on, as the Chinese government has very strict press regulations, making official reporting of the epidemic extremely difficult.
In these trying times, it’s easy to think that every country would band together in a globalized effort to contain or completely rid ourselves of new, dangerous diseases. However, as the facts stand, this is simply not the case. Hopefully, with the emergence of a new decade, our cultural and societal differences will be set aside for the greater goal of helping our fellow human beings.