Since the New Year, COVID-19 has brought life to near standstill in every part of the world except Antarctica. So far, the pathogen has infected over 566,200 people and killed more than 25,300 individuals globally.
The outbreak first started in China's Wuhan region before spreading to other countries. Even though researchers have revealed that this virus was naturally created, China and US continued to play their blame game. US President Trump also called the virus as "Chinese Virus" on several occasions. But if you look at the overall picture, it shows that the impact of the virus outbreak could have been lowered if China had been transparent since the beginning and the WHO been more sincere.
The lack of transparency caused thousands of lives?
China reported its first case of the Novel Coronavirus in December 2019, from Hubei's Wuhan city, which was the initial epicentre of the outbreak. As per an article in 'National Review' revealed how China hid information about the virus at the beginning. Even though the first patient of COVID-19 was identified on December 1 and Wuhan doctors started finding several similar cases in the second week of the same month, authorities silenced the doctors from revealing the truth.
Later, on December 25, two Wuhan hospital doctors were quarantined after they developed viral pneumonia-like symptoms. Soon the hospital witnessed an "exponential" increase in the number of cases in late December. At that time, the whistleblower Li Wenliang warned a group of other healthcare workers about a possible outbreak of an illness that linked to "severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)". Even Director of the emergency department at Wuhan Central Hospital, Ai Fen, first posted information about the new Coronavirus on social media platform WeChat. But she was silenced by the Chinese authorities.
Despite the surge in so many similar cases, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said on December 31 that their investigation has not found "any obvious human-to-human transmission and no medical staff infection." But the shocking fact is the Chinese authority contacted the World Health Organization (WHO) almost three weeks after the healthcare staff started noticing a possible outbreak in China's Wuhan.
It was not the New Year people expected
On January 3, 2020, Wuhan Public Security Bureau accused the late doctor Li Wenliang for spreading rumours about the COVID-19 outbreak. He also had to sign a statement at a police station acknowledging his "misdemeanour" and promising not to commit "unlawful acts" in future. Meanwhile, the National Health Commission of China ordered institutions not to publish any information related to the unidentified disease. At that time another statement by Wuhan Municipal Health Commission further claimed that "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission and no medical staff infections."
On January 6, when 59 people in Wuhan fell sick due to the "pneumonia-like illness", Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a level 1 travel watch. It advised that travellers are not allowed to contact with "living or dead animals, animal markets, and sick people."
Once again, Wuhan City Health Commission released Q&A sheet on January 11 where they explained that the unknown virus has link to the South China seafood market but no human to human transmission noticed. The next day, Dr Li Wenliang was taken to hospital as he developed symptoms like coughing and fever after unknowingly treating a COVID-19 patient. He was later shifted to the intensive care unit as his health situation continued to deteriorate.
Countries started getting affected by Coronavirus
On January 13, the first case of Coronavirus outside China was reported. It was a 61-year-old woman from Thailand who had returned from Wuhan. Later the country's Ministry of Public Health said that the unnamed woman had not visited the Wuhan seafood market as she went to a different, smaller market in Wuhan, in which live and freshly slaughtered animals were sold.
Two days later, Japan reported its first case of COVID-19 and the patient did not visit the seafood market, which was initially thought to be the source of the deadly virus. Finally, in the middle of January, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission stated that "the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out."
Despite initial warnings about the contagious virus, Wuhan authority allowed the residents to gather and celebrate in a Lunar New Year banquet. On January 19, Chinese National Health Commission claimed that the virus was "still preventable and controllable." Soon the head of China's national health commission's team confirmed two cases of infection in Guangdong province which were caused by human to human transmission and medical staff too were infected.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the first case of the coronavirus in the US on January 21 and mentioned that the patient had returned from China. Next day, the officials from WHO visited Wuhan and revealed that the "deployment of the new test kit nationally suggests that human-to-human transmission is taking place in Wuhan."
Meanwhile Dr Li Wenliang tested positive for the Coronavirus on February 1 and then six days later he died due to the COVID-19. Even though the Chinse authorities were alerted, they took it still on a lighter note. Almost two months after the first case of the virus was reported, Chinese authorities announced their first steps for a quarantine of Wuhan city. By that time the damage was made and the world started to shiver.
However, here it should be mentioned that the US is also quite responsible for currently being on the top of the most infected country's list because reports revealed that Trump neglected early intelligence reports about the virus outbreak which would have helped the country to contain the spread.