The Novel Coronavirus

As of late, I can safely say that January has not been the best start of the new year (2020). So far, we have faced several challenges, one of them being the Australian fires and the other being the World War 3 scare after the assassination of Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani. However, we now face a bigger problem: the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

The Novel Coronavirus is a part of the coronavirus family, which has never been encountered before. A Coronavirus is one of the various viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. The virus, in humans, causes respiratory infections, like the common cold, which are typically mild. However, rarer forms such as SARS, MERS and Novel Coronavirus can be lethal. The symptoms vary in other species. For example in chickens, they cause an upper respiratory disease, while in cows and pigs coronaviruses cause diarrhea. Unfortunately, there are no vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent or treat human coronavirus infections.

There are numerous symptoms as well as the virus causes pneumonia. People who have fallen ill suffer from coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, there can be organ failure.  Antibiotics are of no use as this is viral pneumonia. Recovery will depend on the strength of their immune system. Many of those who have died were already in poor health.

As of February 13 2020, here are now just under 60,000 confirmed cases and 1,380 deaths in mainland China. There are cases in 28 other countries outside China, with deaths recorded in one case in Hong Kong, and one case in the Philippines. The number of people to have contracted the virus overall could be far higher, as people with mild symptoms may not have been detected.

Singapore currently has been affected incredibly as citizens fear another outbreak similar to that of the 2002 SARS. The country is very vulnerable to the coronavirus spread as many international cases of the coronavirus from the UK to South Korea can be traced back to Singapore and some countries are now advising against travel to the international hub. As the virus came to Singapore, it automatically affects other countries as well because Singapore is a major international flight hub.

So far, over 30,000 illnesses and 635 deaths have been reported in mainland China which has caused global anxiety. Although the country is doing its best to contain the spread of the virus, there are countless repercussions throughout the country. There has been an increasing rise in racist abuse because of the outbreak. In Singapore, especially in school communities, there have been some xenophobic harassment and racist comments about the far east Asians in schools. Several people have begun to stay away from Asian students and tease them about wearing masks or telling them that they should be quarantined in LOA.

Although, understandably, these comments are purely out of fear of the virus. However, it doesn’t make it just to throw snarky comments around in the air. It is not easy for the people on the receiving end of these comments. Currently, in countries worldwide, countless Chinese restaurants have been losing customers due to the stereotype that the Chinese are unclean and uncivilised. Old racist tropes are fueling fears and societal barriers will only worsen over time.



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