As 2019 came to an end, the first coronavirus outbreak was reported. Originating from the city of Wuhan, China, it has rapidly spread across the globe. Through mass infections and increasing deaths, the virus has brought both fear and controversy. 28 countries have already been affected, and nobody knows how many more will succumb to the deadly virus. Around 40,000 recipients have been reported and around 1000 people have tragically died. Unfortunately, only 4,000 people have made a successful recovery. The Wuhan coronavirus is now officially more deadly than the SARS outbreak from 2002, which was also from China. Luckily, the reported fatality rate is at a relatively low 2%, and there are very few cases outside of China. There have also been no confirmed deaths outside of the Eurasian continent.
The situation within Wuhan is severe. Doctors are overwhelmed with the sheer amount of patients and suspected infected individuals. It has also been increasingly difficult to transport the virus stricken corpses to their respected funeral homes. There have been temporary hospitals stationed in Wuhan, such as the Leishenshan and Huoshenshan Hospital, both of which took a speedy 10 days to build. The same architect who built the Xiaotangshan Hospital (the thousand-bed hospital in Beijing put together in around a week for the SARS epidemic) is helping construct these temporary structures. These hospitals are made by putting together many factory-made rooms with necessary medical equipment. Even though these types of hospitals are not full-service facilities, they offer safety and triage to those afflicted by the coronavirus. A concerning fact about the virus is one can be infected before symptoms show because the incubation period of the virus is 2-14 days. Nobody knows when or how they might contract the virus.
Many car factories in China have closed down temporarily because of the threat of the virus. Companies such as BMW and Toyota are reluctant to restart-up their factories located in China, and it seems other companies are likely to do the same. Automakers have lost many sales in China, which is the world’s largest car market, and many of them have had to close down factories due to a shortage of auto parts. If the situation worsens, the automotive industry, which employs over 8 million people, may significantly increase the economic costs of the coronavirus outbreak. Within countries like the United States, a concerning racist or discriminatory sentiment directed to Asians has emerged from the issue of this outbreak. Because this current strain of the coronavirus originated from Wuhan, China, people have started to avoid Asians altogether because they may get infected. There have been some lighthearted jokes to try to ease the worry because of the virus, but there have also been cases where if an Asian showed signs of any sickness, such as coughing, sneezing, etc., those around them would try to avoid them as if they had the virus. Being nervous or taking measures to maintain their health is completely fine, but acting like every single Asian has the virus is hyperbolic. Some use the virus as an opportunity to openly express their xenophobia or racist sentiment towards the Asian community. Not everybody is like this, but that there are quite a few cases around the world that exhibit prejudice.
Many have been speculating the Chinese government’s intentions. It is highly likely that they are hiding figures and valuable information because they are known for censoring nearly everything in their country. There was a recent incident where Chinese journalist Chen Qiushi has gone missing. He is well known for his first-hand coverage of the Hong Kong protests and the Coronavirus outbreak. Recently, he has been reported to be missing leading people to speculate the government silenced him. Other prominent journalists and activists have met the same fate as Chen Quishi. Needless to say, the Chinese Communist Party controls the flow of information through its state-run media, major news outlets, and authoritarian government. Therefore, the Chinese government is drastically deceptive and corrupt which means they can be lying on the figures they have publicly released. We should be wary of the information we obtain from their media outlets because it could be intentionally misleading.