Editorial: Unprecedented, historic efforts to combat coronavirus


Dr. Li Wenliang tried to warn people. The 33-year-old ophthalmologist had noticed a strange amount of pneumonia-like illnesses connected to an animal market in Wuhan, China. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, In an interview with Communist Party-controlled Beijing Youth Daily newspaper back in December, Dr. Li recalled warning classmates over WeChat of an unknown coronavirus — he previously thought he was just observing new cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Party officials interrogated him, accused him of spreading rumors and forced him to write a statement criticizing himself. Earlier in February, Dr. Li died from the novel coronavirus. If only his warning had gone through. If only. 

The word ‘pandemic’ carries a lot of weight, as proven by the 11 years that have passed since the last pandemic in 2009 (H1N1). The World Health Organization said it is not a word they use “lightly” or “carelessly.” 

The world we live in seems to be existing in a perpetual state of absolute chaos. 

What can be said about the nature of our collective situation, other than the fact that we are truly living in unprecedented times? Entire countries have shut down, travel restrictions have been put in place and schools turned to remote learning. Sports seasons were postponed, bars and restaurants were shut down and sweeping quarantines have been enacted. 

We have never been here before. On such a global scale, life has undoubtedly come to a complete halt. Economies have been absolutely ravaged. Birthdays, weddings, funerals and all aspects of our social lives were slashed. 

For some countries, mainly across Africa, the coronavirus has not, or rather, is yet to disturb everyday life. Others are not so lucky. 

First it was China, the origin and previous epicenter of the coronavirus. Now, the epicenter is Europe, where life in the likes of Italy, Spain and France has come to a screeching halt. In the United States, the past week is when the situation started to escalate. We face an uncertain future, being told to distance ourselves socially. 

This social distancing, which health experts say is imperative to slowing the growth rate of the virus, may have adverse psychological impacts on those practicing it.

It’s easy to feel like you have run out of things to do after sitting at home for prolonged periods of time. Every politician and health professional who has emphasized the importance of practicing social distancing has recognized that this is obviously not the ideal way for humanity to thrive right now.

But with all of this uncertainty, patience with the situation we have been dealt is of utmost importance.  If we all do our part, and take the advice of those who really do know what they’re talking about, this pandemic will end quickly, and hopefully, with more lives being spared.  

It’s important to recognize that these circumstances are not normal.  Every decision enacted by our government demonstrates how unprecedented these events truly are, as we have never seen a worldwide crisis of this magnitude in our lifetime.

How are we supposed to react to this reality? We aren’t.  

It’s okay to not have any idea how to feel. We are all lost, and we all feel confused right now.  And that’s fine. 

When your entire life shuts down, what is there left to do? Just relax. Do your part, stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary to leave and understand that everyone else is feeling the exact same way. Take this time to pick up a hobby, or read a book. There is no pressure to live our lives from a few weeks ago. Normal routine will come again.

But when all is said and done, what will we take away from the effects of the coronavirus, as a global community? Will we be the generations who chose to work together, or let the complicated and uncertainty of life tear us apart?

One can only hope an event like this may never happen again, but if it does, we have to be prepared and approach it with the utmost severity. The nature of our situation is grave, but it will pass if we can work together and take the necessary steps to keep each other as healthy as possible.

Listen to government and health officials when they tell you to stay home. Respect quarantines and any drastic measures — it is undoubtedly better to be safe rather than sorry. There is no time to be ignorant or lazy. Dr. Li tried to warn us and should there be a ‘next time,’ let us pray that for the greater good of humanity — we act on it. 

As with every catastrophe, there is surely hope. You can see it in the collective determination of government officials to curb the spread of the virus. You can see it in the way people act on social media, urging each other to stay home. You can see it in the way Italians sing from their balconies, despite the nationwide lockdown, to show the world they stand together. 

We are one global community — we will defeat this. 

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