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Coronavirus: Care, courage and control

World

March 22, 2020

In December 2019, Wuhan city in Hubei province of China witnessed a very abrupt and mysterious surge in the cases of flu, cough and fever. A doctor raised alarm on social media about this new type of viral disease which was, initially, not taken seriously by local authorities and was rather ignored.

A few days later, however, when the situation escalated and worsened, the central command under the leadership of Xi Jinping rose to the occasion accepting the challenge and ordered to undertake extraordinary measures. Xi personally supervised the war against the virus. The whole city was locked down and quarantined in Jan, 2020. The lockdown initially encompassed 10 million people and then increased to 60 million people. Measures ranged viz., arranging trained human resource to handle situation; imposing travel ban to movement ban; new infrastructure development for quarantine purposes; allocating financial resources generously and reaching out to educate the people.

The extraordinary measures at extraordinary times have borne extraordinary fruits. The Hubei province, Wuhan city in particular is now calm and the disease is under control. The care and courage undertaken by the Chinese government have brought the disease to a halt and saved the lives of 1250 million Chinese people from imminent danger.

The story of control of the virus in china is a greatly encouraging sign for the comity of the nations. Lessons learnt need to be implemented to improve the prevailing situation in other parts of the world as this menace is growing exponentially by the seconds across the globe.

The virus has now not only crossed the Great Wall of China but also oceans and has entered 160 countries worldwide.

The WHO has declared “COVID-19” as a Pandemic, a disease which proves to be far more rapidly growing than SARS (2003) or any other viral disease. Now, the situation is different as the whole world has become vulnerable.

In the aftermath of the World War 2, the world witnessed coming of a united Europe over a divided Europe. Now it’s time to set the differences aside and redefine our priorities against the virus which holds the key to mass extinction. The people on the globe want to see the leadership working together for the cause of humanity under a common agenda irrespective of their borders, faith, religion, race and ideology. They must pool in their financial, intellectual and technological resources to produce a vaccine or a viable cure for the disease irrespective of the cost or profit for a sustainable tomorrow.

Presently, Italy and Iran are the most affected nations succeeding China. The government and people are working together to eradicate the disease. However, the situation has remained unchanged with success being fairly stagnant. The number of cases across Europe, North America and Asia increase in count by the second whereas countries of Southeast Asia and Australia are under inevitable threat. The question now is not “if” the infection reaches those unaffected; it’s rather “when”. This indeed calls for a pro-active approach towards the situation and authorities need to pre-empt the areas which still remain unaffected.

The permanent members of the Security Council under the auspices of the UN with a special invitation to the most affected countries like Iran and Italy and the heads of other global political and economic organizations should hold an emergency summit to finalize a unified structured strategy to be adopted by all the countries of the world. The selfish and lukewarm response by the countries in isolation may cause manifold damage and can potentially cripple the health system of the less developed nations. The well devised strategy and protocols would rally the nations towards an effective and successful war against the virus and motivate them to succor the others in distress. The trump administrative role (due to abundance of resources and vast global influence) in the eradication of the disease remains very poignant. The lack of cooperation amongst the nations and their persistent selfish attitude in achieving self-success will remain the Achilles heel in the battle against the virus.

The strategy evolved to combat the disease cannot be embraced with a resounding success without the involvement of every chief executive of the country, with the recurring support of media/social media, corporate sector and the public at large.

Here are some suggestions to devise a comprehensive and concerted strategy for war against coronavirus: World leaders and UN/WHO leadership to hold emergency summit on pandemic through videoconference to formulate a collective strategy. Country-wide assessment of the resources and the gaps in combating the disease and implementation of unified proposed actions.

Every chief executive of the country to head the Coronavirus Crisis Management Task Force like Chinese model and oversee the progress of state/province/ local authorities on regular basis. A body of highly trained professionals and experts in the field of infectious diseases should regularly assess the situation and share recommendation with chief executive of the country supervising the Coronavirus Crisis Management Task Force (CCMTF).

Mobilizing the corporate sector to fulfill their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by generously contributing and creating infrastructures in less developed countries such as hospitals in every metropolitan city housing at least 1000 patients on the lines of Wuhan hospital built in matter of weeks or any other more important work to fill the gaps. World’s big research-based pharmaceutical companies should pool their intellectual, technical and financial resources and work together to develop a viable vaccine/treatment/ cure. The religious leaders across the world have an important role to play as they must show interfaith harmony, pray for the safety of all humanity and cooperate with the local authorities. They must also guide the people regarding personal hygiene and environmental impacts, especially the importance of staying calm and showing courage to fight the virus.

The media should develop a code of conduct and share the responsibility of transferring information and preparing the people on the protocols to follow at home and outside to keep themselves, their families and society safe from this looming threat. The public is the largest stakeholder in the whole situation and should act more responsibly by looking after themselves and others. They must improve their hygiene, observe protocols and avoid gatherings to keep safe against the disease.

Furthermore, four measures are also very critical to halt the further spread of the virus at micro level. Firstly, there should be limited movement and travel by people within territorial boundaries. Secondly, everyone should be screened and isolated if found infected during trans-border movement. Segregating the sick, suspected and healthy and then quarantining of sick people from healthy people should remain a priority for the authority to prevent further spread. Lastly, the sick should be treated completely until the last suspected case has been cured and controlled.

This bio-warfare will not be won unless every single case has been cured and the onslaught of this disease is brought to an end. The world needs each other more than ever and it is time to let go of all grudges to protect those in dire need and keep Earth, ourselves and our posterity safe, healthy and protected.