“What a problem. Came out of nowhere. “ – Donald. J. Trump.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has brought unprecedented social disruption, the likes the global community has never seen. Governments across the world in a bid to curb the spread of the virus within their domain are imposing various forms of social distancing measures that have crippled social activities that our lives and livelihood depend on.
But this pandemic didn’t come out of “nowhere”, it came out of Wuhan in China and with a coordinated response the spread should have been localized to a few communities in the Hubei province at best. The W.H.O and some major world leaders showed serious limitations in their ability to timely identify the impending risk of a global pandemic in the early days of this crisis.
Bad data from China at the start of the outbreak
Yesterday, China announced that it had revised the number of deaths from the COVID-19 by up to 50%, adding 1,300 new deaths to their official count. This news gave those of the opinion that “China lied” about their numbers a feeling of justification.
The Chinese iron fist rule denied the world timely and reliable information on the true nature and spread of the virus within the country. When the state-managed information about the virus started trickling into the international media space in January, it was largely reported as a side note – the virus was seemingly harmless with low fatalities and low transmissibility (25 Mortalities and 800 infections as at 24th of Jan according to Reuters).
Furthermore, the decisive response to lockdown Wuhan and the announcement of the speedy construction of 1,000-bed hospital among other aggressive public health emergency actions deployed by the government gave the assurance that China will have it under control. This misinformation and the developed-nation status of China may have contributed to the slow global reaction to this pandemic.
No sense of vulnerability amid a lack of global leadership
At only 82 cases outside of China, the WHO on Jan. 30 declared the COVID-19 outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern”.
This warning from the WHO (albeit late), did little to wake the global urgency that was needed in dealing with the epidemic at this crucial time, thus allowing the virus to insidiously hop on planes and cruise ships on its way to being a global crisis.
In Europe, life went on as normal long after Italy was reporting a daily increase in the number of cases. There was no coordinated response from the EU as a bloc to prevent a mass community outbreak; it was each to his own as Italy overnight surpassed China.
A repeat of the kind of international cooperation facilitated by the Obama led administration using the U.N in combating the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak was urgently required at this crucial time.
But with a leader whose mantra is “America first”, only in Hollywood will the U.S. be saving the day in a global crisis under his watch. Trump’s only contribution of notice in the early days was praises for China and WHO for their handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.
He’d follow up this assertion with a slew of COVID-19 denialism and incompetency that caused crucial weeks to go to waste.
Heavy reliance on the misinformation from China, complacency amid a lack of global coordination gave this crisis a reputation that belied its true apocalyptic nature.
As the world self isolate with the hope that the epidemic will pass us over, I can’t help but worry about the state of the world we will be stepping back into. The lockdown strategy is an expensive one that is likely to trigger a global recession that will stay with us long after this pandemic is over.
Source: Adeola Shomala