Now that the death toll has topped 1,868 and the infected continue to grow past 72,436, according to CNN, the Coronavirus is a global health emergency infecting countries including China, Singapore and Japan, among others.
Timeline and numbers:
The virus is believed to have begun at the market in Wuhan, China that sold live animals and seafood. The illness was first identified as an unknown pneumonia that began to infect people from the livestock.
“I first heard about it through memes on Instagram,” senior Yan Siqueira said. “People talk about it lightly on the internet.”
During late December and early January, the internet became aware of the situation in China. It quickly trended on most social media platforms. Meanwhile, China closed off the city of Wuhan for a quarantine on Jan 23.
“The government makes it seem like it’s not a huge deal, but it actually is,” senior Jeanette Wei said. “Because it’s taken so lightly people think that it’s okay to make jokes about it, but it’s affecting more people than you think.”
In this early stage, 17 were confirmed dead and 570 were infected–which led to the calling of a “global health emergency” by Chinese officials and the World Health Organization.
On Jan 31, all airlines from China were suspended from entering the United States, no matter their business here. On Feb 2, the first death outside of China was reported. It was a man in the Philippines who topped the deaths of over 360 people.
Then on Feb 5, 350 people were evacuated from Hubei Province in China and were quarantined for 14 days. At the same time, the Princess Cruise from Southeast Asia was docked for the same quarantine. However, this isolation failed two days before it was supposed to end on Feb 19, and hundreds evacuated, including some infected. This seemed to be the best option since keeping them aboard the ship for such a long period of time was unsafe because more people could have contracted it.
“They quarantined the whole ship which means the people that are infected are with the healthy people which will make it spread quicker,” senior Teresa Pan said. “If a waitress or someone got it, that means everyone else (can get it), so I didn’t think it was a good thing.”
Pan lived in China for 11 years and has been following the virus since it’s initial announcement online. She understands the severity of the disease, but does not fully trust the Chinese governments in their numbers and reports.
“I lived in China for eleven years, so I know what they mean by unsanitary (markets), but it’s not clear where the virus came from,” Pan said.
In the remainder of February, the Chinese death toll topped 1,000, 14,000 new cases were found in Hubei Province and the officials of Wuhan were fired by the Communist party for their inefficiency of handling the virus.
Today, out of China’s 44,672 patients with the virus, 1,023 have died from it–making the fatality rate 2.3 percent.
“The death tolls in the United states and other countries have been contained, but I don’t know about China, but in a couple months I think it will be okay,” Siqueira said.
Siqueira is confident in those at work on the virus and that the technology and health science is good enough to get past this event, unlike diseases like influenza of the early 20th century that easily got out of hand.
“It’s already global, but we’re containing it, and today we’re smart enough to know that it can be a big deal if we don’t do anything about it,” Siqueira said.
What is the virus?
The actual name of the Coronavirus is COVID-19, which is the new type, but the type that is greatly affecting China and killing thousands is a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The Coronavirus was first identified in the 1960s, and the SARS-1 caused an outbreak in 2002 and 2003, but it has now come back worse. The actual family of Coronaviruses are traced back to animals including camels, cats and bats. This is why it began in a livestock market. Symptoms include; fever, cough and shortness of breath, and the virus takes 14 days to infect someone (hence the quarantine length). Eighty percent of those that were killed were over 60 years old, meaning it latches on to weaker immune systems more easily.
“I feel like countries need to get together and come up with policies to be more safe in what they’re doing. In China there aren’t as many regulations as there are in the United States, like the FDA, so I feel like there’s a higher risk of contamination,” Siqueira said.
Effects on Global Economy:
Although the virus is greatly impacting the people, it is also affecting the economy. One of the largest employers in Hong Kong, HSBC, cut 35,000 jobs as the virus affects the economy and the country’s politics.
“China plays an important role in the economy, so they don’t want that to go underwater,” Siqueira said. “American buyers are buying stocks right now to make a profit once the Coronavirus decreases.”
With the massive quarantines and travel bans it might be easy to ignore the virus’ effect on other countries’ economies. The virus has forced hundreds in China to resign from their jobs or take a leave with no pay. Many choose the first looking for different jobs that will let them work and be able to sustain themselves.
If the virus is not able to be contained many companies will be forced to lay off millions of Chinese employees, like HSBC, to have any chance to survive. Trade is in danger with hundreds of Chinese factories being shut down. The flow of Chinese goods and parts is being slowed, forcing Nissan and Hyundai car factories to temporarily shut down because they couldn’t acquire parts. Apple is facing a production delay in Chinese factories and airline revenue is expected to fall by four to five billion dollars in the first few months of 2020.
“Its lower in productivity in China, which is true, but it’s going to stabilize the economy (once the virus goes away)” Siqueira said.
The lowering of the market due to China’s large impact on trade and foreign economies will lead to more investors and buyers which will help stabilize the economy after the virus is treated.
Overall, the virus is continuing to grow, but the efforts to contain and treat it are growing as well. Hospital, or containment centers, are being built at rapid speeds in order to handle the influx of patients.
“They have taken measures, but I feel like just spreading more awareness would be (ideal),” Wei said.