Facts. Not Fear.
Information about the new Coronavirus, how it has affected the world, and actions we can take to prevent it
February 11, 2020
Coming back from the Chinese New Year, wearing a face mask, and coughing on your friends was the joke of the week at the start of the semester. Scaring others about being sick, is spreading panic through the student body about the new coronavirus. But it’s really not that big of a deal. A case can be made that media is overdramatizing the entire epidemic, making people paranoid by every sneeze, and making people xenophobic about those from China. This needs to stop. People need to realize the reality of this virus and stop invoking fear in others.
To understand the situation, it’s important to learn about the actual virus. Named the 2019-nCoV (2019 novel coronavirus), as it is the new strand of coronavirus. Many strands of coronavirus are SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and the common cold. Named ‘corona’ as the virus looks look like a crown or ‘corona’ in Latin, the new coronavirus spreads much like other respiratory diseases. The disease started in Wuhan, China, and is linked to seafood and live animal markets in the city. As of now, there is no vaccine for this virus, however, a group of doctors in Thailand has said that they found a treatment that cured a patient in 48 hours. The department director, Somsak Akkslip said that they would share this with doctors around the world, but informed that it might not work with all cases of the virus. There are 32 patients with the coronavirus in Thailand, 18 of whom traveled to China, with zero deaths. The first Thai patient, Jaimuay Sae-ing, a 73-year-old woman, tells people “Don’t be worried about the Coronavirus. I was the first and I recovered.”
The media has played a huge part in influencing people all around the world in this specific case. The outbreak of false information has made many people more paranoid than they need to be. People spreading misleading and exaggerated information on how deadly the virus is, is making others feel unnecessarily threatened across the world. There are only 461 cases outside of China, and only 2 of them have died, a minuscule 0.4%. A high school senior says that “I believe that the whole situation is merely overblown by the media and that it is not any dangerous if hygiene is maintained per individuals.”
Racism against the Chinese has also spread with this new virus. Sam Phan, a Guardian writer in the UK wrote that “On the bus to work last week, as I sat down, the man next to me immediately scrambled to gather his stuff and stood up to avoid sitting next to me.” This illuminates the amount of racism with this issue. A student in high school said that “As coronavirus has become a more popular topic to talk about, so has racism or racist jokes against Chinese.” It’s important to realize that this is a virus that targets every human, no matter their race, culture or ethnicity and that people shouldn’t be discriminated just because their ancestors are from a place where an epidemic outbreak has started.
Students at ISB think that the death count is anywhere from 10 – 90,000 people, and an average of around 700 deaths. The new strand of coronavirus has killed 1013 (as of Feb 11th) people, a mere 2% of all cases whereas compared to SARS and MARS, the death rates were 10% and 34% respectively. China’s National Health Commission (NHC) has said that 80% of those that have died have been over 60, and 75% of those had pre-consisting conditions. 180 students in the high school answered the question, “How bad do you think the situation is with the coronavirus internationally from a scale of 1 to 10?” with a mean of 5.7.
These overreactions have affected activities in the school already. As everybody learned last night, all overseas GCW trips have been canceled. This means in the space of 4 days, 168 students have to get reassigned to different trips around Bangkok and Thailand. However, the reason is justified, as any student, or chaperone that gets sick, has to be quarantined in the country for 14 days. ISB has responded rightfully for this overreaction from around the world. This is also true for Cultural Convention IASAS. Dance, Drama, and Tech (DDT), Forensics and Debate (FD) and Music IASAS, scheduled for March 5-9 have all been canceled. TAS, ISM, and SAS have placed travel restrictions on their students, ensuring they cannot travel to another school. While schools are working towards creating a virtual IASAS, the experience, and meeting up with old friends, won’t be the same.
Other than the cancelation of GCW, many students have asked for more precautions that the school can take. Some people call for more stations of hand sanitizer in the halls around the school, and an implementation of a rule on face masks. If you are scared of catching this virus, make sure to keep your hygiene up, wash hands before meals, and contact the school nurse if you feel sick. Earth, a junior, also stated that “the school should try to spread facts, and tell people not to panic because the disease itself is not as bad as the news makes it seem.”
All of this has shown how small the situation is compared to other strands of coronavirus, and the common flu. The large difference in perception to facts shows why many people are panicked about this situation. It’s necessary for you to know the real statistics of this virus, and share it with others.