“We’ve lived through much worse and with much less fuss”
As a French stand-up comedian said once, “Whatever happens in the world the newspapers have the same number of pages.”
The new illness that has emerged in Wuhan, China in recent weeks has created panicked headlines across the world. But as history has shown time and again, while the deaths are saddening, the over-reaction is downright dangerous.
The World Health Organization reported that the novel coronavirus (‘2019-nCoV’ for short) had killed 170 people with a global total of 7,711 confirmed cases. All the deaths and the vast majority of cases have been in China, although close to 100 cases have been reported across over 20 other countries. According to a UK medical journal, The Lancet, the disease is very similar to two coronaviruses found in bats. The disease is therefore likely to have come to humans from bats via animals sold at a market in Wuhan.
The virus is capable of jumping from person to person, with the first such case in Europe being reported in Germany on Tuesday, and transmission can occur before someone shows signs of being ill. While most people who present with the disease only suffer mild symptoms, in about 20 percent of cases, the symptoms are severe, including pneumonia, respiratory failure and death.