A formerly-unknown virus had been linked to pneumonia cases in a city in China called Wuhan. As it turns out, the virus was established as an epidemic in China which later spread around the world in a global outburst. This viral disease, also known as COVID-19 seem to have originated from a seafood market in Wuhan where wild animals, including but not limited to, snakes, bats, birds, and rabbits, are marketed illegally. However, the source of the virus is still a topic of skepticism. According to a group of virologists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the coronavirus genetic makeup between that of humans and bats are 96 percent identical, while another study shows that there is 88.5 to 92.4 percent similarity in genetic sequences of the virus between humans and pangolins. Moreover, few of the initial COVID-19 cases show that it may have been contracted before the Wuhan seafood market incident. This is because the market was shut down on January 1, 2020, but the virus had already spread to a huge perimeter by then and caused coronavirus pandemic. After three weeks of the initial spread, it was declared by WHO Western Pacific Office that the virus can be passed on between humans based on the verification that few of the medical staff were infected while treating coronavirus patients.
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Is Coronavirus a Pandemic?
A disease is established to be a pandemic when there’s a substantial and continuous spread from person to person in several countries across the world, at the same time. The last pandemic encountered by the world was in 2009 when the swine flu took the lives of more than 5 million people. Until the end of February the World Health Organization (WHO) withheld from using the term pandemic based on the fact that the world was yet to face a global spread. However, that took a turn soon enough and by the second week of March the number of cases had reached around 120 thousand in 114 countries thereby, making WHO label coronavirus as a pandemic. The confirmation by WHO has initiated emergency response activities in nations all over the world. Besides, governments have proactively communicated with its citizens about the risks and consequences of the contraction and spread of the disease. The clear order was to locate, isolate, and treat every coronavirus case while tracing each contact.
How Can You Prevent the Spread of the Virus?
Before educating ourselves on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus, we must be aware of how it spreads. The disease is proved to be transmitted to a person from an infected person in the form of droplets through coughs and sneezes. Besides, initial symptoms do not show up to five days making it harder for an infected person to even be aware that they have contracted the disease. Moreover, it can also be spread from infected surfaces if a person touches a surface that has been touched by an infected individual’s hand.
Now that you are aware of the mediums of transmission, you must actively take steps to prevent the spread or contraction of the virus. First and foremost, you must avoid close contact with people who are even just feeling under the weather, and also refrain from touching your mouth, eyes, and nose. If you feel sick, do not step out of the house at any cost and try to maintain distance from your family members or whoever you live with. Our hands are the most vulnerable carriers of the virus which necessitates disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched frequently. Besides, you must make it a practice to wash your hands multiple times a day with soap and water.
Finally, social distancing is a highly effective approach to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. To practice safe distancing, you must be 6 feet apart from another person at all times to avoid infecting someone else or contracting the disease. Realistically, it’s not possible to provide life-saving care to a huge number of critically ill patients at the same time. Therefore, you must take all the necessary measures to reduce the number of new Coronavirus cases.
Varied Approaches on the Coronavirus Pandemic by Different Countries
The way the global pandemic crisis is dealt with differs widely from one country to another. Heavily populated countries such as the United States have passed stay-at-home orders with variations from state-to-state depending on the critical stage of a particular state or city. Businesses have been shut down and work-from-home initiatives have been taken since the declaration of the pandemic. Most of the major nations have involved in similar approaches. However, some of the countries in Asia and Europe have opted for different routes to protect its citizens from the current coronavirus pandemic. Some are leading to effective results, while others are not.
Hong Kong’s Potential Discovery of Dogs Contracting COVID-19
As coronavirus was revealed to be a disease that can be transmitted from person to person, nobody thought of the possibility of pets being prone to the virus too. With the enactment of social distancing in most parts of the world, taking your dog for a walk or jog seemed like a good idea to get a fresh breath of air. But at the beginning of March 2020, a pet Pomeranian was tested positive for COVID-19, followed by a pet German shepherd that was tested positive for the virus as well. The pet Pomeranian’s owner was reported to be infected by the virus, and soon after, the dog passed away while being quarantined. Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD) announced that there’s no evidence that animals can contract the virus, and that every pet owner should maintain good hygiene habits anyway. However, this, in a way, was a precautionary message to pet owners to not give their pets a hug or kiss so as to prevent the transmission or contraction of the virus (if true).
Public Phone-booth Testing in South Korea
According to experts, South Korea has some of the most safeguarding courses of action to combat the pandemic. An excellent initiative has been taken to install public phone-booths around a hospital in Seoul, where people who are worried that they may have contracted the disease can get quick testing done by medical staff members.
This is how it works: A glass-wall is placed between the person who wants to get tested and a hospital worker. You may consult with the staff member via a handset that is set up against the glass wall. After the medical consultation, the hospital employee can stick their arms through the rubber gloves installed on the glass wall to take a quick swab from the patient, before the surface is disinfected right away. This testing method is proved to examine almost 10 times more than the number of samples that could have been tested without the “phone-booths”.
Criticized Response of Coronavirus Pandemic by the Philippines
Experts around the world have highly condemned the approach the Philippines have taken towards the pandemic. The nation is struggling to protect its citizens due to the same complications that the majority of developing countries are facing. However, their weak response to the pandemic is worsened due to inconsistent guidance from its leaders. On March 16, the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte placed lockdown orders on Manila and the island of Luzon which constitutes of the total population of 119 million people. However, the government officials continued to announce contrasting orders on what the lockdown means and who is allowed to leave their house. The announcement regarding the use of public transportation has been unclear as well, making the citizens confused about what measures to follow. By the end of the second week of May the total number of infected cases has reached 11, 876, with 790 deaths.
Singapore’s Robust Infrastructure to Deal with a Coronavirus Pandemic
After the terror-striking SARS pandemic that took place in 2002, Singapore has developed a strong mechanism to face any pandemic that was to come in the future. Therefore, when coronavirus hit the world, this country was one of the most prepared ones to fight the disease effectively. As soon as the coronavirus reports from Wuhan were released in January, Singapore banned travelers from China. Besides, all the incoming travelers were checked for above the standard temperatures, along with those of people going to restaurants and institutions. The country is well-equipped to carry 2000 tests per day while 140 contact tracers check each person’s case history with the help of police. Furthermore, Singapore has developed a Serology test which helps to determine whether an individual has antibodies in their system to fight the virus. Testing is free for all, while strict quarantine measures are to be followed by people who came in close contact with an infected person.
Italy’s Late Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
After China, Italy was the country that had exceeded the total number of COVID-19 deaths and turned out to be an epicenter for the vicious virus. The issue didn’t lie on the country’s response but a slightly too late reaction with multiple moderations. When the first coronavirus case was confirmed on February 20, it was ruled out as a COVID-19 case by reinforcing that the person did not come in contact with anyone from China. However, that first patient was probably one of 200 other patients who had contracted the virus. Just within 3 days, 123 more cases were confirmed. Although this made the government enact lockdowns in multiple towns, an ongoing campaign “Milan doesn’t stop” confused people more as to what lockdown meant. According to the statistics, May 14 marks a total of 223,096 nationwide infected cases, with 31, 368 deaths.
Which Countries Are Tackling the Coronavirus Pandemic in the Best Way So Far?
While countries that are handling the pandemic crisis efficiently include Australia, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Canada, one country that surpassed their tackling skills is Vietnam. Vietnam has zero death cases from the coronavirus pandemic which larger developed countries can only dream of. The successful handling of the global pandemic has been credited towards public awareness, aggressive testing, and tracing contacts. As of May 11, there has been a total of 288 confirmed cases, with 249 recoveries.
The Vietnam government was aware of their limited clinical assets which made them take proactive measures as soon as the initial cases’ reports were out at the beginning of January. The returnees into the country were strictly required to quarantine for 14 days at government-funded facilities. On March 16, the government had made wearing masks outdoors compulsory, while posing a harsh penalty for those who do not obey the rule. Moreover, public communication campaigns were held to educate the people on how deadly the virus is and howeasily it can be transmitted. Fast forward to May 2020, no cases have been reported for almost a month, which led to the lifting of the lockdown and the reopening of businesses.
A picture that includes a male and a female doctor holding each other’s hands in the air portraying victory against the virus. Put the Vietnam flag as the logo on their lab coats. They must have masks and gloves on.
COVID-19 Impact on the Developing Countries
Countries all across the globe are facing the coronavirus pandemic and a global recession as a consequence. But developing countries have been hit the hardest due to the unlimited debt, and are potentially not able to save their economies. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the emerging countries have been struck in distinctive ways.
There has been a steep decline in currency values in many developing countries which costs more to pay interest on, or repay debts in other currencies. The scarce resources that these countries have must be spent on the health crisis and its economic repercussions, not on foreign debt. To ease the challenges in these developing countries, the IMF has taken an initiative to cover the payments due in 25 countries. A recent pledge of $185 million by the UK, and trust fund financed by IMF’s member countries’ donations will be used to cover the expenses of those developing countries most of which are in Africa.
Sharp fall in Commodity Prices
Many emerging countries are exporters of commodities required by industries all across the globe. Due to the pandemic, factories have been shut down as a measure to mitigate the virus which in turn, has led to decreased demand in commodities. Consequently, the prices have fallen sharply. For example, a sharp decline in the demand for transport fuels has led to a severe crisis in the oil market. Other commodities have witnessed a drop in price as well – Copper and zinc are 18% and 20% cheaper than it was in mid-January, respectively.
Income on Daily Wages
Densely populated areas in developing countries have a harder time dealing with a health crisis such as a pandemic due to their inability to maintain social distancing measures accurately. A significant amount of population in many developing countries depends on daily wages. Therefore, they cannot abide by the stay-at-home orders if they need to feed themselves and their families. The harsh reality of people’s lives in these developing countries fall under choosing to go to work with a risk of contracting the infection, or stay at home and starve to death.
When Will the Coronavirus Pandemic End?
A vaccine for coronavirus is yet to be made. Besides, the process of inventing a potential vaccine is extremely slow as it has to go through multiple testing stages for safety and effectiveness. Furthermore, even when a safe vaccine is created, it would take at least 18 months to manufacture them on a large scale and make it available all across the globe. That being said, there’s no possibility of the pandemic ending unless a vaccine is created. Meanwhile, governments can lift the shutdown state-by-state, and loosen the social distancing measures only when the infection rate reaches below 1. Moreover, an incredible app is on the making– a contact tracing app. According to this, if a person has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, the app will send an instant alert and a test can be requested.
The end of the current global economic downturn is in the hands of the solution to the coronavirus health crisis. The rapid spread of the virus has proved that it has no boundaries based on national borders which necessitate the use of a multilateral approach. Every country across the globe, rich or poor, is facing severe pressure on its health care system, while many have failed to mitigate the virus at the earlier stages. The total number of infected cases across the globe has surpassed 4.5 million, with more than 300,000 deaths so far. Looking at the bright side, more than 1.7 million have recovered from the brutal virus. That being said, only a safe vaccine can put an end to the coronavirus pandemic, given that strict lockdown and social distancing measures are followed to prevent the spread of the virus until we reach that point.