Coronavirus started out as a problem in Wuhan, China.
The latest research jointly conducted by researchers such as South China Agricultural University, Professor Shen Yongyi, and Professor Xiao Lihua, shows that the pangolin (a form of ant-eater) is a potential host for this new type of coronavirus. This seems to bear witness (though is not scientific evidence) to suggestions that unregulated Chinese animal meat markets incorporating wildlife (some dead, some butchered onsite) into the food chain have sparked off this epidemic.
However it started, the virus is unpleasant and at times fatal. That said, so is influenza, tuberculosis and measles.
As I write 16 million Italians in Lombardy are in lockdown, holidays are being cancelled and travel curtailed in many places. Covid-19 is spreading fast with globally more than 106,000 cases including 3500 deaths, so it is not to be taken lightly. In Britain, 206 cases were (at time of writing) confirmed though 8 of these have recovered and left the hospital. The fatalities here have sadly occurred mong vulnerable older people with underlying health conditions. We could all be rooted with fear, but does that actually help anything?
Can we take anything useful from this virus which has sent global economies into freefall? Which has been a source of readily conveyed hatred of certain ethnicities on the streets? Which has led to people panic-buying toilet rolls and hand sanitiser, to the detriment of others perhaps needier?
An article in The Guardian suggests we can at political and economic levels, but I’ve made my own list of the (some potential) positives which might come out of this difficult situation:
- We have all stopped talking about Brexit.
- However, we suddenly realise we are part of a global community facing a common threat (Little Englander mentality fails here as viruses do not care whether we are Remain or Leave.) International co-operation is essential.
- I live in hope that China will think harder about the way it treats its animals in unregulated meat markets and at festivals like Yulin. It might like to treat its people better, too.
- People should all now be washing their hands after going to the toilet, before preparing food, etc., as simple hygiene rules matter. They always mattered but society has grown complacent. Use soap, not lazy hand sanitiser unless you have to (yes, we have all done it) and dry them thoroughly. Hospitals will be cleaner places, too.
- People in public places will now carry tissues or sneeze/cough into their elbows instead of directly onto others.
- The sun will still rise and set, the tides will still ebb and flow, birds will still fly, and life will go on for most people.
- We will be more mindful, thinking of the consequences of our actions as people, not just in terms of the virus.
Let’s stop catastrophising, let’s keep a look out for others, and in the words of Corporal Jones, “don’t panic” because it does not actually resolve anything.
Instead, look at how we can all live better lives … and create better times ahead.