“Epidemics follow patterns because diseases follow patterns. Viruses spread; they reproduce; they die. – Jill Lepore
The world is on full alert. We have never before seen this type of global response to a virus or disease, as we do with the coronavirus disease (CO-VID19) outbreak. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronavirus started in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019.
The coronavirus has since then spread to all continents except for Antarctica. The virus has infected over 90,000 people thus far and has killed more than 2,500 worldwide. In the midst of the heightened awareness of this deadly virus, the average person is caught in a bit of confusion regarding whether the coronavirus is still an epidemic or has moved on to be a pandemic. The World Health Organization defines a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a new disease. Many believe that the coronavirus meets this definition of a pandemic. “Coronavirus” is often prefaced with the word novel, because that is precisely what it is: a new strain in a family of viruses we have not seen before.
WebMD states that coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s, but we do not know where they originate from. They get their name from their crown-like shape. Most coronaviruses spread the same way other cold-causing viruses do: through infected people coughing and sneezing, by touching an infected person’s hands or face, or by touching things such as door knobs that infected people have touched.
According to the WHO, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that range from the common cold to much more serious diseases. These diseases can infect both humans and animals.
We have seen fewer people contracting the virus in China in recent weeks. We now have South Korea and Iran as the places where the virus appears to be spreading most rapidly. Outside of China, South Korea and Iran have recorded most deaths from the coronavirus. In some jurisdictions, such as Iran and China, the government controls the media, and as such, this lends itself to the questioning of the veracity of the information leaving these countries.
Many countries have banned travel to various countries where the outbreak of the coronavirus seems to be out of control. There have been quarantine and isolation facilities established in almost all countries for those suspected or confirmed of having the virus. Many international events have been cancelled or postponed in order to minimize the spread of the virus.
Global tourism is being negatively impacted due to the travel ban to certain countries. Additionally, international cruise shipping has taken a huge hit because of the outbreak of the coronavirus. The Diamond Princess Cruise ship which was docked at the Yokohama port in Japan readily comes to mind. Passengers suspected of having or confirmed with the coronavirus were quarantined on board for up to 14 days.
The next global event is the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan scheduled for July 24 to August 9, 2020. Many expect the Summer Olympics to be postponed or perhaps move to another country, although the latter is unlikely since it requires years of planning to host an event of such magnitude. It would be highly irresponsible for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to go forward with the Olympics if the coronavirus is not contained very soon. Not only would the lives of athletes be placed at risk, but having so many persons gathered in one space, undoubtedly, would present a perfect opportunity for the coronavirus to spread to many more countries once these athletes return to their respective homes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the coronavirus is spread primarily through person-to-person contact and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The CDC adds that symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath and usually appear between 2 to 14 days after exposure. There is currently no vaccine to prevent the coronavirus; the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to the virus.
Scamming and Social Media
Social media can be defined in numerous ways. The core of social media hinges on the ability of these platforms to facilitate the interaction of people of various backgrounds. In this regard, social media can be defined as an array of communication platforms which allow users to interface with others regardless of geographical boundaries. Social media allows users to share content quickly and in real time.
Amidst the global efforts and coordination to contain and indeed find a cure for the coronavirus, there are those who seek to benefit from this deadly virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that criminals are disguising themselves as WHO to steal money or sensitive information. The WHO has advised that if you are contacted by a person or organization that appears to be from WHO, to verify their authenticity before responding.
The World Health Organization states that they are aware of suspicious email messages attempting to take advantage of the 2019 novel coronavirus emergency. This fraudulent action is called phishing. These “Phishing” emails appear to be from WHO and will ask you to: give sensitive information, such as usernames or passwords, click a malicious link and open a malicious attachment. Using this method, criminals can install malware or steal sensitive information.
We are advised by the medical fraternity to wash our hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Additionally, cover our nose and mouth when you sneeze. Finally, when you are sick, stay home from work or school and drink lots of fluids. Those individuals with underlying medical issues such as diabetes, hypertension and kidney diseases are especially at risk should they be inflicted by the coronavirus.
In the words of Timothy Brewer, a professor of epidemiology and medicine, there is no value in panicking or telling people to be afraid. Do not let fear and emotion drive the response to this virus.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
Blog is at waykam.wordpress.com