Is China lying about the Coronavirus?
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Officials around the world are struggling to determine just how bad Corinavirus (COVID19) really is. The situation is compounded by China's tight control of news and information. Clues are emerging that the situation is even more serious than it appears.
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Most people are tired of hearing about coronavirus. Is it contained? Isn't the flu worse? Is it even something to worry about?
So far, official announcements have downplayed the seriousness of the potential pandemic. Inciting panic among billions of people will do nothing to improve public safety. However, the people deserve facts and information so they can make better decisions for themselves. Unfortunately, solid facts are in short supply. Instead, most of what we have are educated guesses grounded in logic. But few of those guesses are comforting.
Chinese health officials have announced the death rate for Cornavirus seems to be about 2.3 percent. That's considerably higher than the death rate from the flu, which is about 1/10th of one percent (2.3/100 versus 1/1000).
If this is true, then the world is in for a shock should the disease spread globally. This explains the heightened precautions we see around the globe. For weeks, the seriousness of the disease has been downplayed. The world was first told that the fatality rate for the disease was unknown. Then, we were told it was between 1 and 3 percent, but that it was contained. Now, we have what is reputed to be an official figure from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention at 2.3 percent. But the problem is, is the figure accurate? Do Chinese officials actually know the real figure?
There are two reasons for pessimistic skepticism. First, it's quite possible officials in China don't have accurate figures. Accurate figures would require counting all of the infected, and testing the deceased to confirm they died of complications caused by the virus, and accurate reporting. The second reason for concern is the Chinese government's tendency to spin the news. Public order is more important than truth in China, so there's certainly some pressure to suppress bad news and emphasize the good. And that's the optimistic take. It is also possible the government could be lying and the actual figure is still unknown or much worse.
We can infer the seriousness of the situation from the Chinese reaction to the disease. Entire cities have been quarantined. Some of the measures taken are draconian. There are photos of people transported to care facilities by force. Private transport has been outlawed and public gatherings canceled. Even the annual political meeting of the nation's top officials has been postponed due to the outbreak. Why would such an important and prestigious meeting be delayed?
The answer is likely because the disease cannot be contained and it represents a significant threat to the nation's leaders.
This also explains the measures taken around the world. While there is talk of the disease possibly "leveling off" and assurances that its spread outside China has been contained, the world continues to prepare for an outbreak. In the United States the military has prepared several bases across the country to house and treat infected persons returning from overseas.
Despite what anyone says, it feels like the danger is growing. And if the disease cannot be contained in China, how long before it gains a foothold in a region where monitoring is lax or nonexistent? Chances are, sooner or later the disease will spread globally.
There is reason for hope.
First, efforts to contain the disease are certainly having an effect. While the disease is spreading, it is spreading much more slowly than it would without precautions. Second, the world is preparing which means those who will need intensive care to survive will have better chances of getting it. The disease will not reach any nation without warning, we see it coming. Finally, a vaccine is already in the works. Even if the disease is destined to go global, if the spread can be delayed long enough the vaccine can be deployed and save millions of lives.
Of course, in the worst case scenario, the disease will spread and most people will be on their own to cope. In that situation remember that washing your hands and keeping physical distance from others is the best way to prevent infection. Simply hygiene is incredibly effective. We are not helpless in the face of the virus.
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