Coronavirus has been officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
What has been happening?
If you were around during the SARS outbreak in 2003, you may remember the panic and fear associated with its mere name. There were approximately 8,400 cases detected of this disease and about 813 deaths occurred.
COVID-19, which is a new form of coronavirus, and has created a fear epidemic before creating an epidemic of itself. Reportedly, there have been more than 100,000 cases of infection with approximately 3584 deaths confirmed and counting.
Though, one can see that COVID-19 has proven to be a much more contagious form of coronavirus as compared to SARS of 2003, but what is the commonality between both of them?
They both successfully created mass hysteria, the cases of which are uncountable. It is really unfortunate to see that people haven’t learned much about their collective behavior even after cases in history. The air of panic is still the same, ignorance and misinformation still exists and people are still living in shackles of paranoia. The reason for this is simple to understand but difficult to incorporate- the collective ability to think critically is challenging.
Though the numbers seen associated with COVID-19 reflect a serious issue, people still need to understand different perspectives of looking at this situation. Let’s talk about that further:-
What and where?
Infectious and highly communicable by human contact, COVID-19 is a pneumonia-like acute respiratory disease. Coronaviruses comprise a large family of viruses common in people, and animals including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.
The first case of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID 2019), initially called the 2019-Novel Coronavirus, was reported from Wuhan in the Hubei district of China. Ever since the first reported case on 31st December 2019, the World Health Organisation has been working towards tracking and controlling the spread of the disease.
Outside China, the Novel Coronavirus was first detected in Thailand. South Korea, however, has the largest number of reported infections. Recently, Italy overtook South Korea with respect to the death toll. Iran, Japan, France, and Germany are among other nations that have seen a substantial increase in recent weeks.
In India, 17 Italian nationals touring Jaipur have tested positive for the disease, including their driver. Presently, the reported number of COVID-19 cases stands at 34 people. Interviews, business conferences as well as important events are being canceled as these numbers are going up in India.
Coronavirus: The truth about the fatality
The number of deaths reported in this outbreak has certainly grabbed the anxiety of the people by its neck. However, the reality is not as assumed. The fatality rate of COVID-19 is a cause of concern but not in a way that people imagine it to be. Consider the deaths in the United States for this matter.
One of the deaths in Placer County in California was described by the officials as “an elderly adult with underlying health conditions.” In fact, most of the people who died in Washington were the residents of Life Care Center, a nursing facility in Kirkland, and most of these victims were over the age of 70. Moreover, the rest of the people out of all the deceased ones were already having underlying problems, and their immune systems were compromised which could have made them susceptible to a virus like this.
Furthermore, in China, the epicenter of this epidemic, a report stated that the condition of nine hospitalized children, who were diagnosed with COVID-19 under the age of one, was relatively stable and did not require any intensive care or had any severe symptoms.
Given that its severity is still under question, baseless rumors should be avoided as they just add fuel to the fire of chaos.
Coronavirus and the economy
The world economy has seen a lot of turbulence over the past few days that the numbers in the stock market have considerably gone down, owing to the uncertainties created by the spread of COVID-19. Though, for a lot of market players, Coronavirus has served as a perfect scapegoat to blanket other underlying factors which were the primary contributors. The fall of the stock market with dow jones falling more than 1000 points can validate the collective pessimistic mindset. While one can argue that the seriousness of this epidemic is a justifiable cause of this fall, history contributes a different perspective as well.
The case of Spanish flu is a good example of this. When the Spanish flu broke out in 1918(more than a century ago), a deadly upheaval could be seen in the US that claimed up to 20-30 million lives(nearly one-third of the planet’s population). Despite this deadly panic, Dow Jones rose steadily throughout the year, primarily due to US market correction after World War-1.
Coming to today, when we look at the Indian market, problems had already been existing with the growth rate, employment, and stock market performance. Coronavirus has recently hit India and the blame for so many setbacks in the market has come on its shoulder. The stock market is bearish due to its global outbreak, and investments have seen major setbacks when FIIs started pulling out the flows from the domestic market. All in all, Coronavirus has turned out to be a ‘smokescreen’ for the already prevailing economic crisis in India.
With all this being said, it is still imperative to take precautions seriously. Since this is a viral illness, antibiotics are rendered useless, while existing antiviral drugs are ineffective. Recovery depends on the strength of your immune system. So, the following things must be kept in mind:-
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick; keep a 3-foot distance (at the minimum) to prevent contact with infected droplets sprayed during a cough or sneeze
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; or, sneeze into your elbow to prevent the use of your hands
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Wear a facemask if you show symptoms of COVID-19. It plays a crucial role in the prevention of the spread of the disease. Healthcare providers and other caregivers are required to wear facemasks. Healthy individuals are not recommended to do the same
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after visiting the bathroom; before eating, and after coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol