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January 27, 2020 - Monday 4:01 AM by JD Vergara

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It’s still too early to declare a global emergency for the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization. It doesn’t matter that there have been about 25 people who have died and hundreds of people are sick already because of the viral outbreak which started in Wuhan, China. It doesn’t matter either that there have already been cases of infection in the United States, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. Why the hesitation to declare so? 

The reason is that the WHO does not want to untimely disrupt the global economic circulation. A report says, “A declaration of a global emergency typically brings greater money and resources, but may also prompt nervous foreign governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries.” Yes, the Lunar New Year holidays brings with it an influx of Chinese tourists. A global emergency declaration would greatly affect this flow of commerce.

So when shall the WHO rightly declare a global emergency for this viral outbreak? It will do so when the outbreak shall become an “extraordinary event.” The latter simply means an event that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response. If you find this reason unbelievable, so do I. It seems that the circumstantial application of this criterion has been so fine tuned to a clinical precision. That influx of Chinese tourists could be the atom bomb for a global viral apocalypse.

According to reports, in 2014 the WHO initially resisted declaring a global emergency for the Ebola epidemic in West Africa for fear of upsetting the neighboring countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Not until the fatalities reached a thousand people and the virus had spread to multiple international boundaries did the WHO declare a national emergency for it. So we’ll just have to wait for a more justifiable scenario. Until then, let’s roll in the Lunar New Year. 

Meanwhile, the Guardian reported a horrifying picture of the viral outbreak, the likes of which can only be seen in Hollywood movies like the “Contagion.” It says, “Hospitals in the Chinese city of Wuhan have been thrown into chaos and the movement of around 20 million people has been restricted by an unprecedented and indefinite lockdown imposed to halt the spread of the deadly new coronavirus.” I could see in my head Matt Damon frantically running here and there in the pandemonium.

Videos of the Wuhan pandemonium were captured and related by the Guardian to quote: “Footage posted on Weibo that appeared to be taken inside Wuhan’s hospitals showed scenes of chaos and despair. One video, apparently taken at Hankou People’s Hospital, showed long queues of patients wearing masks. The man filming claimed there were only four doctors on duty and that people had been waiting for several hours for treatment. Another video showed a patient lying on the floor, apparently having fainted. In another clip, a woman wearing a face mask cries out for help, saying, ‘I have a fever.’”

But then again, the WHO deems this to be simply an emergency for China and not for the whole world. Officials are highly anxious about the weeklong Lunar New Year holidays as it means hundreds of millions of Chinese crisscrossing the country and abroad carrying in their bodily systems who knows what. This problem alongside a host of other natural calamities mixed with human frailties, one may ask, is the world coming to an end?