COVID-19 NARRATIVES

Initially, some world leaders had talked down if not ignored the health risks and the potential economic repercussions of coronavirus 2019 or COVID-19.

SARS CoV-2, caused by the present novel coronavirus, had not been keenly identified and seriously studied until January 2020. It theoretically and reportedly emanated from a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, the Capital City of Hubei Province in China.

On 17 November 2019, a first reported novel coronavirus case went unnoticed in China.

In December 2019, Dr. Li Wenlian, a 33-year-old Ophthalmologist in Wuhan City, first reported and alerted his colleagues about the emerging SARS-like respiratory disease. But, the Chinese authorities supposedly rebuked him in the ensuing saga. The Chinese purportedly charged the Ophthalmologist alongside seven intimidated Wuhan doctors for rumor-mongering at once. Sadly, Dr. Li was among the casualties of the emerging coronavirus. Later, China declared him a martyr.

Dr. Li Wenliang believed to die of coronavirus on 6 February 2020.

In the beginning, most people ignored the deadly and developing coronavirus as something short-lived, transient and fleeting just like the other viruses that plagued the world in the 20th century and the new millennium, to wit, anthrax (2001), SARS and MERS-CoV (2003-2004), Swine Flu (2009), Polio (2014), Zika (2016) and Ebola (2014 and 2019).

Oblivious people were confident that considering the advancement in technology both in electronic and medical fields coupled with health studies from medical experts from different entities that this form of virus could be immediately overcome and withstood by the unsuspecting citizens.

Wayback, it was highly forbidden that a pandemic or any deadly diseases that might compromise national security be reported publicly, especially in the middle of the war between 1914 and 1918. (The Spanish Flu or influenza pandemic of 1918 lasted from January 1918 to December 1920)

National Museum of Health and Medicine ©

Compared to this generation, journalism plays a vital role in information dissemination, especially in this global pandemic crisis that knowledge of coronavirus, addresses by health experts, is imperative in contributing to the flattening of the curve and the disease control.

As the news of the novel coronavirus unfolded and unveiled, China outwardly seemed composed and relaxed in handling the health threat hounding Asia nations during the initial outbreak. Some alleged that China gravely misrepresented the data to the World Health Organization (WHO) while Chinese officials reputedly bought time to resolve and obscure the epidemic issue between 14 January and 20 January 2020. They declined, by all accounts, the offer of the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine what causes the strange contagion and where it originated.

Since then, the United States had regularly and strictly monitored turn of events through the World Health Organization, which got fundings both from the USA and China. Meanwhile, the world did observe and watch how America managed juggling COVID-19 issues with domestic issues rocking US President Donald Trump, like his impeachment and the like.

What bothered other people most is that how come this virus originates from the horseshoe bats wherein consumption of these wild animals have been purportedly part of the Chinese culture since time immemorial. If this evidence is valid, probably, SARS CoV-2 would have been contracted first by our forefathers before, along with other plagues recorded in the history.

Further, if the cause of coronavirus is natural in origin, then there’s nothing to be blamed but nature itself. Although people mostly exploit and disturbed wildlife habitats, like the incessant denudation of forests and other woodlands; the superfluous industrialization; and the tolerance of wildlife markets, which forces these wild animals to interact with and expose to the domestic pets and the humans—raising the probability of direct zoonosis. Perhaps, these contribute to the spread of novel and zoonotic diseases.

In the initial phase of the pandemic, the WHO brushed notably aside claim of the possibility of the human-to-human transmission not until the Chinese Official stated and confirmed on 20 January 2020, that the virus could be transmitted human-to-human not until the multitude of revelers in Wuhan City attended and celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year. This newest report of the Chinese representative was contrary to the earlier single tweet of the WHO, in its official Twitter account, in the second week of January that translated Chinese preliminary investigations that no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.

From all reports, local authorities immediately ordered a lockdown in Wuhan City to contain the spread of the disease to the neighboring provinces after it made public atypical pneumonia.

Picture credit: Rhedel Sy ©

Finally, on 30 January 2020, the WHO, through its director-general, declared a global health emergency due to coronavirus. During that time, about 213 people had already died in Hubei Province, and the global body concurrently reported approximately 10,000 COVID-19 cases.

Immediately, the United States imposed travel ban from and to China, especially in Wuhan City. The government tried to block non-American citizens and restricted its citizens who had previous travel history in China, starting on 2 February 2020. The United States also implemented stringent measures like social distancing. After that, they ordered closures of schools, shuttering of business establishments to stem the spread of the mysterious contagion. These measures had ultimately brought the country’s economy to a standstill.

Notwithstanding the policy of the State, American authorities apparently failed to control the influx of some unheedful American and tourist arrivals from China.

On 11 March 2020, as the number of countries outside China alarmingly increased by 13-fold, the WHO officially declared COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic

Other critics meanwhile said that this coronavirus is a laboratory construct or purposely manipulated virus. At the same time, some attributed this scourge to nature and divine intervention as people no longer pray nor visit churches, intertwining biblical events to this fallout.

In between, China and the USA also traded barbs. Both of them attributed the coronavirus to each other.

Further, mask diplomacy had ostensibly come into play when China, which previously declared COVID-19 free country, started reaching out to other nations in Asia and Europe in its depressing and devastating time. Amidst the crisis, China sent planeloads of personal protective equipment like masks, and the like to its recipients.

In these tough times, ventilators are so crucial in protecting the infirm with underlying conditions. However, shortages of masks and ventilators have become prevalent these days.

Last month, Italy was the first European country that registered the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, followed by Spain and France.

On 26 March 2020, the 55-year-old British Leader Boris Johnson, a non-smoker, became the first leader of a major power who contracted novel coronavirus. Days earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel volunteered to self-isolate herself after her doctor, who vaccinated her with anti-pneumonia, had tested positive of COVID-19.

Now, the United States is by all accounts at a loss as it recorded the most COVID-19 cases in the world and the highest mortality cases due to coronavirus pandemic. The tally is a far cry from the score of coronavirus cases from China—considered the origin of the novel coronavirus.

Besides, the US President from all reports cast blame for the World Health Organization’s failure to handle the pandemic crisis in its infancy when it was still gathering force. Next, Trump challenged the probity of the World Health Organization and hinted that it would pull out WHO funding amid coronavirus pandemic.

A man walks across an empty coffin during a Luzon-lockdown in Metro Manila. Photo credit: Rhedel Sy ©

Experts say that COVID-19 is the worst pandemic ever thumped the world after the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed over 50 million people—including 675,000 Americans—worldwide and is gearing up to be the greatest recession the world would experience if this contagion continues to persist in the following months or years.

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