The word epidemic is already heard everywhere. It feels like politicians want to scare us because frightened people are easier to convince. The whole world is now looking for answers about how terrible the new virus is, whether it will turn into an epidemic, and if so, whether it will spread over to the whole world, becoming a pandemic.
We don’t know why the Chinese authorities remained silent since it all started back in early December. It is not just the number of cases throughout China: the virus is spreading everywhere at an irregular rate with news of new victims piling every day. There are still foreign nationals in the country. The whole world has come together to find a solution to the spread of the virus. Most airlines have canceled or reduced flights to and from China, while the Chinese have been denied entry. Even people who have traveled to China within the past two weeks are not admitted. Because of this panic, there is already a sharp rise in anti-Chinese sentiment everywhere. Gold has risen in price as the most stable asset in difficult times. OPEC is promising to cancel its upcoming meeting due to a fall in oil prices. Metal prices have dropped due to reduced production in China. All this is a bigger blow to the economy than any Trump-induced trade war. Economists have called the coronavirus” the worst black swan of all time”, that is, a disaster that could not be pre-calculated and that could bring down the entire world economy. And here it is necessary to understand whether this is really so. It’s scary to listen to China ghost cities where people hide in houses and stock up on groceries.
The World Health Organization, who, a few days ago, had estimated the danger level as average, has now declared the situation as a global emergency. Didier Houssin, Chair of the World Health Organization Emergency Committee, evaluates the situation as such: “The outbreak of coronavirus is a public health emergency of international concern.”
In China, a full-scale battle continues with this invisible enemy, the populous cities in the center of the country seem to have died out. Hubei Province, the focus of the disease, is in a voluntary-forced blockade. Hospitals are reminiscent of wartime front-line hospitals constantly admitting new patients. It got to such a point that China, the manufacturer of everything in the world, was forced to purchase medical masks from abroad. Electronics companies have announced that delivery dates will be revised due to forced vacations and quarantine.
Buyers, on the other hand, are worried about something completely different: whether this virus from China will come along with their long-awaited purchases. Many online shoppers put off their orders for now.
Frightened public around the world is wondering why China has once again become the source of the spread of another global infection. Creepy shots are finding their way into social networks, such as bodies lying on the streets or a subway car pulling a person who has lost consciousness. But the origin of these photos is not known as to whether they were actually shot in the quarantine zone or not. The Chinese authorities are usually not fond of publicity, but this time they seem to be trapped in their own information policy of openness. They took unprecedented measures: isolated entire cities carried out large-scale preventive work and did it in front of the eyes of the whole world. But absolutely no one believes them, people believe that China is hiding something. Rumors are circulating about crime centers where bodies of pneumonia sufferers are being burned, or that the official statistics about the victims are lies. Some experts do not exclude the possibility that the virus could be an American weapon, either biological or propaganda, in the trade war between the USA and China, because the current panic is undermining the Chinese economy. Others doubt the authenticity of the official version which claims that the virus primarily spread out of the local food market, and point out that there is a large biological laboratory that conducts research, including deadly viruses in Wuhan. According to some reports, some people believe that the deadly virus breeds only on the elderly and that this virus was specially designed by the laboratories in China itself, in order to reduce the number of pensioners, as China’s “one child in the family” policy gave impetus to an aging population, and this, in turn, it hits the budget of China. It is practically impossible to find out how close all these bits of information are to reality. There is no vaccine for the Chinese virus yet.
The virus is no longer about the disease, it is already about big picture politics. Humanitarian aid to China by the whole world is carried out by planes that pick up their citizens on their way back. Everyone shares their protective masks, medicines, products. There is a simultaneous outbreak of bird flu in a province neighboring Cuba as well. The Hang Kong, which has just flared up with anti-Beijing demonstrations, says that it will develop the vaccine itself and prove its superiority over Beijing. Taiwan has already announced: “Save all, begin with yourself.” Therefore, even those who want to donate privately were banned from sending gauze and other materials to mainland China. Beijing has already replied: “You’ve just demonstrated your inhumanity to all, live with it.” And this is, after all, a strange reaction to a misfortune, even if they would like to break free of Beijing policy and let them not recognize the doctrine of “one side two systems,” even if consider themselves independent representatives of real China. Denial of assistance looks bad.
European newspapers dubbed the events as “Chinese Chernobyl” -an analogy to the USSR, which hid information about the disaster until it was impossible to deny it. In this comparison, there are two goals at once: to strike at China, where the Communists are in power, from which the West does not expect anything good while comparing with Chernobyl as a provocation of panic, they say this is a disaster and there is no salvation. Is this really so tough? So far it seems that this is an exaggeration and that so far everything is going on almost as it was during the time of Atypical pneumonia: an outbreak, shock, panic, the victory of physicians united against the virus.
What any of us can do now is wait for what will happen next.