As each day passes while I’m hiding out in Korea with my family, I compulsively check the news surrounding the coronavirus outbreak in China. We live in China and are unsure when we will be returning. Schools in Kunshan are delayed until February 17th as of today. We’ll stay here at least until then, so I’ve got loads of time to make guesses on how I think this whole thing is going to pan out.
The WHO Declares a Global Health Emergency
I feel like we all knew it was simply a matter of time before the World Health Organization made this declaration. The general sense seems to be that the decision should have come sooner. The statement released today by General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has me raising an eyebrow.
Of course I’m not privy to any more information than next person causally pursuing the internet, but this statement immediately stuck out to me. I saw it everywhere. I think it’s absurd, and it feels unnatural. What’s happening in China is why it’s a global health emergency, and to say otherwise raises questions in my head. Take a look at the following taken from the very same CNN article:
Again, I don’t claim to know more than anyone else, but doesn’t this statement make it seem as though China’s health system is also “ill-prepared” for what’s happening with the coronavirus? I’ve read so many stories about the supplies shortages, the lack of beds to treat people, people being turned away, and the mayor of Wuhan admitting they did not disclose the information in a timely manner.
I do understand that to declare a global emergency there has to be a global component to the outbreak, but to suggest that China is handling the outbreak easily doesn’t match what is being reported. An estimated 5 million people left Wuhan before the lockdown. Anyone who has done any traveling knows that Chinese tourists make up a rather large portion of overall tourists in other Asian countries. I was surrounded by mandarin speakers in my recent trips to both Cambodia and Okinawa.
It just seems obvious to me that the virus was going to make it around the globe to some extent considering how much travel occurs in and out of China and how the virus is fairly contagious and currently has no vaccine.
I just have to question why it is so important that WHO make it very clear that China is not part of the decision to declare a global health crisis. China is the origin of the virus, it’s currently where all deaths are occurring, and it’s where hospitals and medical staff are struggling the most. China is such a large component of our globalized world, and they are struggling with the outbreak. Why pretend like everything would be alright if the virus was somehow magically contained within China’s borders? The very notion that it could be contained when we all knew that 5 million people left Wuhan before the lockdown is just naive.
Why make such a point to exclude China as a piece of the puzzle for the decision to finally make the declaration that should’ve happened much earlier?