International Update: Coronavirus

I have personally put off writing about the coronavirus for two reasons:

  1. A new article about the crisis pops up on my newsfeed every day and I’m not sure how to keep up.
  2. I’m (more than) kind of scared at the prospects of a possible pandemic.

I officially decided that it was time to put these two excuses aside and just write the thing; gory paranoia-filled details and all.

If you’re interested in getting a quick news update about things outside of coronavirus, check out The Skimm. Yes, it’s time for my bi-weekly shameless plug for one of my favorite news sources of the modern day. Haven’t checked it out yet? Well, I’ll remind you to do it again in two weeks time.

Without further ado, here’s your international update on the coronavirus.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below.  A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: What is happening?

Article Title: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary

Here’s the gist: On January 31, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization announced that the outbreak of the new strand of coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, is a international health emergency.

COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China. The earliest cases are connected to a large seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, suggesting the initial outbreak to animal-to-person spread.

Later cases in China and around the world have been linked to person-to-person spread and even community spread. This means that some people who have been infected by the virus are unsure how or where they became infected. Thirty-two nations outside of China have reported cases of COVID-19.

Cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild to severe, with some leading to death. Global efforts are focused on containing the spread of the virus but with the current circumstances it is suggested that the virus will likely cause a pandemic.

The full CDC summary can be found here.

National Geographic: What does the coronavirus do?

Article Title: Here’s what coronavirus does to the body

Here’s the gist: COVID-19 is being compared to diseases like SARS and MERS. Statistics so far have shown that COVID-19 is spreading faster than SARS, but the death rate appears to be a fifth of its troubling cousin virus. While not as fatal as SARS or MERS, COVID-19 has already proven to be 23 times more fatal than the seasonal flu.

Depending on the severity of the virus, COVID-19 is capable of attacking multiple organ systems starting with the lungs and working its way into the intestinal tract, blood stream, liver, and kidneys.

This is due to the way our bodies combat viral infections like the coronavirus. When your body is struck with an illness like COVID-19, it turns to the cytokine protein. This particular protein signals the immune system to send immune cells to the site of an infection. The immune cells will then kill off the infected tissue to save the rest of the body.

If your body is fighting off a severe infection, like a serious case of COVID-19, it causes a cytokine storm. A cytokine storm releases the immune cells without any regulations which means they will start attacking healthy tissue along with infected tissue.

This leads to complications like flooding of your lungs, weakened blood vessels, multi-organ failure, and acute renal failure.

To read the full Natural Geographic article, go here.

Cable News Network: How is the coronavirus influencing foreign relations?

Article Title: The coronavirus crisis is raising questions over China’s relationship with the World Heath Organization

Here’s the gist: The World Health Organization (WHO) is receiving backlash for its praise and cooperation with the Chinese government during the current coronavirus crisis. WHO relies on the financial backing of charities and its member states, like China and the U.S. Critics wonder if this lack of financial independence is influencing the role WHO has in the crisis.

Since the member states of WHO also vote on the officials of the organization and set its agenda, it is clear that WHO has to keep its members happy to remain a functioning organization. This means that, to stay informed about the coronavirus, WHO has to stay on the good side of the Chinese government.

It is uncertain how transparent China has been about the early stages of the coronavirus and it is still unclear how transparent they are being about the current state of the crisis.

While doubts regarding the relationship between WHO and China may cloud some opinions on the organization’s underlying motives involving the coronavirus, it is important to note this quote from WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:

“[…] let’s recognize as a world, as a globe what China is doing and help them and show solidarity.”

For the full CNN article on WHO and its relationship with China, go here. If you are interested in learning about how the coronavirus has impacted the national relationship between the Chinese government and its people, consider checking out this article by Bloomberg.

The New York Times: How is the world combating the coronavirus?

Article Title: Europe Confronts Coronavirus as Italy Battles an Eruption of Cases

Here’s the gist: Based on an article published today, February 23rd, more than 150 cases of the coronavirus have hit Italy–specifically in the Lombardy region of the country, just outside of Milan.

Ten towns in the area are currently locked down to prevent the spread of the disease. Schools, museums, bars, and nightclubs have been closed. Venice cut its annual celebration of Carnival short, and Catholic church officials have suspended all religious ceremonies, including Ash Wednesday.

Grocery stores have been cleared out of all food, from fresh fruits and vegetables to canned goods.

Two military structures are being prepared as isolation camps and the open boarders throughout Europe are now in question due to the Italian outbreak.

If you would like to read the full NYT article about the recent cases of coronavirus in Europe, go here.

Why We Should Care

We take for granted how ignorance can truly be bliss, especially in situations like this one. Even though I wish I didn’t know all that I now know about the coronavirus, this is a subject everyone needs to be informed about–for their own safety and the safety of others.

The coronavirus has had a joke-like air to it here in the United States (people are literally Googling ‘beer virus’). In all actuality, the coronavirus is a threat on global health. It has a very likely potential of becoming a pandemic. It’s also a very clear threat on the political and financial stability of some countries.

Since the disease spreads from people traveling, this crisis will likely cause even more anti-immigration sentiment than already exists. People are scared of the unknown and the fact that people are dying from an incurable disease. In all honesty, reading the NYT article about Italy felt like reading the start of a dystopian novel–then I remembered this was reality.

It’s important to remember this though: don’t stop living your life because of the unknown–living in fear will not stop the spread of a disease; it will just give you high blood pressure and anxiety alongside everything else.

Instead, take precautions. Wash your hands. Sanitize everyday surfaces. If you aren’t feeling well, go to the doctor, stay home, and avoid getting others sick. These are simple things that may seem silly to read here, but they will help prevent the spread of many diseases–not just the coronavirus.

Stand in solidarity with those that are battling the virus and hope that the scientists hard at work in the world of medicine find a cure soon. Wishing all of you health and wellness– and again, please wash your hands.

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