Before COVID-19 turned into a worldwide threat, no ordinary man would glance at the virus’s place of origin. In fact, during its initial stages, it was easy to deny the actual extent the virus could go. Patient Zero was working exclusively in a random unregulated wet market. Local news reports insisted that most cases wouldn’t spread outside the area anyway. It was also easy to consider that the disease mostly affected the elderly and the immuno-compromised, which could have meant that the virus would fade away eventually.
Needless to say, not everyone can understand the dangers of the coronavirus. Most of the time, it would already be too late to tell, especially knowing that the statements above are complete facts.
Now, everyone that has access to the internet is bound to see actual facts from reliable organizations. It’s easy to blame others for endangering people for going outside. Social networks are teaming up with health experts. Both in domestic and international areas, for people to click on to take well-informed actions. But how dangerous could it get to tell people the wrong thing?
The Media’s Influence in Disbelief
In January, well-known media agreed that the world might be overreacting to it: The New York Times and Buzzfeed News claimed that the refusal to travel to and from China at the time was xenophobic. They thought people should worry more about the flu than they should the virus.
Of course, it was sensible to think that way. Given the small number it infects when compared to the 10,000 annual flu infections, it wasn’t much to worry about. However, not all were able to consider that the threat isn’t by its symptoms or susceptibility. But its fatality and uncertainty. Hospitals, central banks, governments and most especially households aren’t ready for a pandemic, nor were they informed of its possibility in the first place.
Even though the corresponding outlets apologized for their misconceptions towards the virus, the damage has already been done. No matter how much they make up for this, some people are bound to have solid, although misinformed, beliefs.
China’s Silence Killed
Before the novel coronavirus became an outbreak, Wuhan doctors showed concrete evidence of its connection to the unsolved SARS outbreak in 2003. Wuhan authorities forced them to sign non-disclosure agreements to “stop spreading false rumors” about it, even threatening to fire him for seeing the mutual symptoms.
Furthermore, there are reports that claimed China began its censorship as early as December 31. The country even repeatedly downplayed the severity of the virus by emphasizing that it came from Wuhan markets, and that it couldn’t be contracted from human to human. This gave way for people to travel back home, effectively spreading the virus into other countries.
Reports also claim that President Xi Jinping already knew of the virus as early as January 7. But he only warned the World Health Organization about it on January 20. Additionally, he suppressed the actual total number of infected people in the same month.
It’s important to note that the SARS outbreak also originated inside a similar unregulated wet market in China. But authorities aren’t as prepared as Taiwan will always be.
Taiwan’s Learnt Lessons Saved
Taiwan became one of the most infected country’s during the SARS outbreak. It spent years getting ready for the next pandemic. Tsai Ing-wen implemented at least 124 measures to block its spread that almost obliterated the need for lockdowns, including universal healthcare and urgency in both its government and its societal standpoint.
The Taiwanese government continues to protect its public health services by ramping up face mask production. It is even implementing punishments for spreading disinformation about a virus.
Even though the country was right beside where the virus began, Taiwan rarely saw its citizens panic as much as Americans do. Medical officials held daily briefings to uphold informed and peaceful democracy in the country. They used lockdown as its last resorts contrary to authoritarian economies who had insisting outliers.
The US’ Complacence Killed
Let’s go to the United States as another example. We might forgive President Donald Trump for not knowing the virus’s true nature in its initial days. However, his country now has the highest number of infected people in the world. The main reason? He barely acknowledged facts brought forth by the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci. He repeatedly warned the public of how dangerous it is to do something as trivial as going outside.
Trump still has the responsibility to correct himself for his earlier mistakes. He can influence his citizens to take the matter as seriously as it should be. But even until now, he insists on spreading misguided assumptions that allow even more complacency and eventually deaths from the most urgent life-threatening virus in history.
Some citizens rarely differ: the country saw separate rallies in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, and Washington on April 19 alone. Despite strong urges from health experts around the globe, hundreds of people gathered to deny their claims. They violated social distancing and mask guidelines during their protests.
ABC news believes that this is a result from the president’s urges and toxic, unjustified assurances that some states could easily allow their people to go back to work. He even says he’s prepared to bring some parts of the American economy back to life, even with skyrocketing cases in the country. For this, he only asks: “why don’t we just let this all wash over?”
Germany’s Trust in Facts Saved
Unlike most countries responding to the virus, Germany is one of the few that recognized it for what it is: a medical crisis, not a political one. Chancellor Angela Markel put the responsibility of taking precautions against the pandemic to the experts. She refrained from making movements that solely depend on its government. “It is serious,” she declared. “Take it seriously.”
Although of course, Germany’s numbers began from luck and an already efficient healthcare before the virus. Many of the early patients caught the virus from Italy and Austria while the aforementioned country was still the epicenter. The obvious pattern triggered the country’s massive testing procedures, hiking up the number of cases in the country but not its fatalities.
Nonetheless, that’s not the biggest reason why nations respect Germany’s strategy. Unlike the US, the German government fully trusts in its health sector’s expertise over its own. The country, as well as its citizens lining up for free testing, are working together to collect accurate data to surpass the virus. This was the country’s main driver for making decisive, aggressive, and most importantly, effective decisions that showed certainty amid a blindsided era.