COVID-19 is caused by a new form of coronavirus. There exist many different kinds of coronavirus that are responsible for various diseases; however, this newly identified type is unique because it is contagious, which is believed to have been transmitted from animals to humans. According to revealed statistics from a research center of China in late February, there seem to be two main types of this virus –the ‘S’ type which infected about 30% of the population and emerged from animals while the second ‘L’ type is a changed form of the virus which is more robust and infected 70%.
However, research is still in progress and requires a sample of more than 150 individuals for any further investigation. This widespread virus is believed to have emerged in Wuhan city of China in a food market that brought in the notice of WHO authorities in China in late December when several patients were reported with pneumonia from an unknown virus.
Once the epidemic in China, which most countries did not consider a serious threat, is now a global threat and is not just affecting humanity very severely, it is also a pandemic for the economies of the world. In fact, the US has labeled this virus outbreak as its worst crisis after the Great depression of 1929. However, contrary, we are depressed and scared of thousands of people dying from the virus, and stable world economies are experiencing a slight recession, there are also positive vibes that require equal contemplation.
The initial epicenter of this virus outbreak was China’s city of Wuhan, where authorities at first were reluctant to acknowledge the outbreak of this epidemic. However, after realization, the steps took by China to control the outbreak are remarkable and so offer other nations the footsteps to be followed. Deputy editor of The Economist, while talking about measures by China, said, ‘Never in history had the country took such a drastic measure and applied them so rigorously.’ today, now as this pandemic is infecting other countries in the world the outbreak in China seems under control. For days there had been no reported cases of Covid-19, and the only reported cases are the imported ones upon which China has canceled all foreigners from entering its frontiers.
A LOOK into CHINA’S EFFECTIVE MEASURES
As the threat of the outbreak of new disease seemed imminent, authorities in China rushed to contain its outbreak. On January 23, it locked its city of Wuhan, and 11 million people were in complete lockdown within hours of the announcement. People were completely prohibited from entering or leaving Wuhan city, and eventually, 15 other cities were also locked down. The only rationale to put cities with Millions of dwellers under complete lockdown was SOCIAL DISTANCING.
There are only two key factors that contributed to China unlock its path to speedy recovery: First, imposing an overall Social distancing and Second, timely, and practical measures. According to China, the key to fight this disease was speed, speed, and speed.
Besides, China, we have other examples of Singapore and South Korea as well who followed China, and today they seem somewhat relieved from the virus’s threats. It is said that until there is a vaccine for the virus, the only logical approach is the Prevention from the virus and the only way you can prevent the virus is by maintaining a social or physical distance.
WHAT IS SOCIAL/PHYSICAL DISTANCING?
The term ‘social distancing’ is a widespread outcry these days you may be hearing them from politicians, celebrities, scientists, experts, etc. the word simply means that you should not come in to contact with anyone and must limit yourself to your homes and unless it’s indispensable you should stay at your homes. Whereas, if you go out for urgent or necessary work you must take precautions like wear gloves, avoid busy travel timings and above all should maintain at least 2 meters’ distance.
When involved in any sort of monetary exchange, avoid direct touching of notes, for you never know that it might be touched by an infected individual. The people who really need to practice this social distancing the most are people above the age of 70, compromised or weak immune system, pregnant women, and patients of diabetes, cancer, or Aids. But everyone needs to practice it so the spread of the virus can be stopped for good. While the benefits of this distancing also include the reduced pressure on health care units, which is very much needed.
This social distancing was also among the key measures that were taken to fight the Spanish flu in 1918.
It seems ironic to rely on such an old method for Prevention from a viral disease in such a globalized and technologically advanced world. But agree or disagree, yet this the only weapon we have to fight the disease. Although after trying to implement a policy of mitigation and avoiding severe measures like lockdown to put people at distances, many countries like UK, USA, and Italy finally came down to the administration of suppression. In mitigation, you simply put the infected patient in isolation, whereas, in the crackdown, you put everyone in isolation from everyone whether or not they are infected like in China.
While it might not seem like a potential step to fight against COVID19 or seems painful and irritating to be under imposed isolation, but it is the best way right now to deal with this pandemic. We have plenty of examples in the world right now who did not consider social distancing seriously or lockdowns in their countries as a severe warning, and today they are among some worst-hit nations by the deadly virus. One of the very first examples in Italy, then in Spain, the US, and the UK.
Italy at first seemed quite relieved of the threat and was hoping to get out this situation first in Europe. It delayed its response to the disease, and so the virus took the advantage and continued to infect the population. When the government shut down schools and education institutions, families simply went out on vacations! One can infer at least from this bit of information on how important it is to keep yourselves at home in isolation from other people and strictly follow your governments’ guidelines. If we all cooperate with our governments, we can overcome this crisis, we do not have to go through the horrors of this lethal and vicious virus.
We can look into the ongoing situation of Spain, which is expected to become the new epicenter of this virus in Europe, surpassing Italy. Spain made the same mistake as Italy. It locked down its cities and imposed strict social distancing measures to prevent the transmission of the disease when reported cases exceeded 6000+ and locked down on March 14.
Most of the politicians of the US, including President Donald Trump did not take the threat seriously, and until Trump announced a locked on March 22, the officials were still making baffling statements about the virus, and by April 2 it has 2,45,658 cases of positive covid-19 patients with more than 4000 deaths. Even now, the UK has been put under lockdown. It’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and health secretary are both tested positive of Covid-19.
We have enough cases in time around the globe to know how we can effectively deal with the pandemic & its aftermaths. Where on the one hand, we have success stories like China, Singapore, and South Korea; we also have disturbing stories of Italy, Spain, the US, and the UK. Though the virus is new and there are a lot of uncertainties regarding its treatment and precautions, one thing is clear that unless we have a vaccine for it, the only way out for us is isolation or maintain Social Distance. Because if you are apart, you’re alone.
Frayal Qazi is a student of BS, International Relations at ND University. She based in Quetta and currently pursuing higher studies in Islamabad.