For the past month, the coronavirus epidemic has slowly gathered momentum in its spread from the initial epicentre in Wuhan, China. From a few initial cases of influenza-type illness just as the Chinese New Year celebrations were about to begin, the Covid-19 virus as we now know it, has spread to all major continents.
More than 2,200 deaths have been recorded worldwide. The number of those infected is closing in on 100,000, and several times that number are in quarantine as a preventive measure against any potential spread.
The impact of coronavirus on China itself has been devastating. Wuhan is shut down and isolated, presenting an almost dystopian landscape. In other cities across China, there have been concerted efforts to halt the spread of the virus.
The initial step in any such mobilisation would be to know exactly the extent and scale of the crisis being faced — and that can only be ensured by having a full, fair and transparent accounting of the numbers affected by the coronavirus in China
Visitors from China to neighbouring Hong Kong are quarantined while nations elsewhere have imposed travel bans on Chinese nationals travelling from their homeland. Some international airlines have halted flights or slashed service.
In the Middle East there have been confirmed cases and quarantine measures have been put in place at several locations. Here in the UAE, passengers are being screened for early symptoms of the disease.
The World Health Organisation has now defined Covid-19 as “public health enemy number one”. While that’s a catchy and headline-grabbing phrase, it doesn’t in itself ease the effects of this pandemic. What is needed is a full and immediate mobilisation of public health resources globally to ensure that the spread of this disease is reversed.
The initial step in any such mobilisation would be to know exactly the extent and scale of the crisis being faced — and that can only be ensured by having a full, fair and transparent accounting of the numbers affected by the coronavirus in China.
Certainly, there has been confusion in the exact numbers of those infected if only because officials in China decided to change the symptom scale and alter the counting methodology.
There is need for more transparency, which in turn will help the global community to better prepare its responses to the pandemic. Here in the UAE, public health officials have been quite open in assessing the threat and risk posed by coronavirus.
That’s not been the case in several countries, which is only assisting the potential spread of this virus. Given the interconnectedness of nations in the modern times, a global effort to fight the deadly virus is the need of the hour.