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The Trumpian “Chinese Virus” – Part 1

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News of the novel virus is everywhere, from the front page of all the papers, social media, TV to the playground at school, shops and markets. In this case, thanks to the internet, they spread faster than the actual virus itself.

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2; a new type of coronavirus detected in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province in late 2019. The outbreak of the coronavirus has been labelled a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). New cases are being reported daily around the world. Sadly, not only cases but deaths, too.

Coronavirus has spread to 177 countries or territories and claimed more than 9 700 lives. The severity of the situation can be best described by the numbers that show how rapidly the number of deaths had increased in the past 24 hours, having risen to almost 12 000. More than 80% of the deaths were recorded in only 4 countries – Italy, China, Iran, and Spain.

The WHO claimed it took more than three months to reach the first 100 000 confirmed cases worldwide, but only 12 days to reach the next 100 000. However, the actual number of people infected internationally is thought to be much higher, as many of those with mild symptoms have not yet been tested. In response, countries around the world are ramping up measures to try to slow it down.

Governments say they are acting on medical and scientific advice from experts. But the measures and their timing have varied widely, highlighting the many factors at play. A lot of countries have now limited entry or imposed other forms of restriction on travellers. Airlines also cancelled flights. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) argues that as of 18 March, 107 countries had closed all their schools. Many international conferences and major events have also been cancelled or postponed, including Euro 2020,  Copa America and this year’s meeting of G7 leaders in the US. States are either partially or completely closing their borders. People have been asked worldwide not to leave their homes to help with the curbing of the virus. Shops, restaurants, pubs, cafés have been asked to close or at least halve the opening hours. A number of countries have even imposed a curfew and terminated the movement between cities within the borders of their territory. It is up to them now to decide whether to choose the draconian Chinese-style lockdown or the liberal Italian-style.

Coronaviruses (CoVs) have been identified as human pathogens since the 1960s. They infect humans and many other vertebrates. Illnesses in humans are mostly respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, however, symptoms can range from the common cold to more severe lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia. Covid-19 seems to be less deadly than the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), but it’s not yet clear by precisely how much.

The most outrageous things to do in a time of crisis are to exacerbate xenophobia and fear-mongering, but the worst one until now, which honestly should make everyone physically ill, is that nurses caring for patients have been spat at and called ‘disease spreaders’ by members of the public, according to England’s chief nurse and the Royal College of Nursing.

I advise all of you to stay home, stay safe, and try to filter fake news and do not panic. Fortunately, today anyone can be a virologist, politician, doctor, the wisest person on Earth, or someone who knows everything and is always right by just reading a few articles or watching the TV – so be careful with that.

According to the title, my original plan can be seen, that supposedly there will be more articles in connection to the crisis and its effects. The topic, per se, is incredibly complex and complicated. Studying every aspect of the question is a mission impossible. This article is a fact-check, an introduction to the topic, while the rest will look at the socio-economic and environmental perspectives and how this virus is currently shaping our future.

Netflix, wash your hands and chill!

Times International Guest Poster


The author of this article was Szebasztián Simic, an undergraduate student at the University of Szeged studying for an International Relations and a Political Sciences degree.


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