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The Coronavirus Pandemic has been going for most of 2020, but at the beginning, many didn’t seem to take it too seriously. Here’s what I wrote in March 2020.

I was born in 1955 and I celebrated my 65th birthday in January 2020. At the same time I was also laid low by the swine flu, so thank you mother nature for such a lovely surprise. At the time there was news coming out of China about some sort of bird flu outbreak, but I took very little notice. That all changed over the next few weeks as people began to die in China and then it was being reported that the #Coronavirus had spread to other nations. It wasn’t long before people across the globe were being infected and this week it was declared as a Pandemic by WHO, the World Health Organisation.

Now we have our first cases here in Cyprus. Italy is reeling under the sheer volume and has been on complete lock-down for a while now and it looks like Britain and America are about to see the outbreak ramping up in their countries too.

My age or date of birth has little to do with the current situation, but what it does tell me is that despite living through H1N1 and SARS outbreaks a decade ago, I have never, in my 65 years, experienced anything quite like what is about to happen on a global scale. This is a public health disaster and many people are going to die, but it seems worse than H1N1 and SARS. Why is this?

SARS affected 26 countries and resulted in more than 8000 cases in 2003. In the 2009 flu pandemic about 700 million to 1.4 billion people contracted the illness. The deaths were estimated to be between about 150,000–575,000, which means it had a low case fatality rate. Some medical professionals are saying COVID-19 is 20 times more deadly than the flu from the 2009 virus.

Since 31 December 2019 and as of 12 March 2020, the number of cases of COVID-19 have been reported as 125,518, with 4,617 cases resulting in death… so far. It may, on the face of it, seem like there should be no reason to worry when you compare the figures to the last pandemic in 2009. But you would be wrong to make an assumption like that. COVID-19 is now actually proving more deadly than the last pandemic and has only just started its run of infection. Governments, health officials and the public are worried and they are right to be worried. In the US alone it’s estimated that over a million people could die. Admittedly this is due in part to the bungling attempts to ignore the outbreak by the president, Donald Trump.

But no matter which way you cut it, Coronavirus is a devastating event and it’s not only a health crisis it’s also a sociological event.

One of the reasons so many people are aware of this current pandemic is because of social media. Twitter was created in March 2006 and Facebook opened for business in September 2006. So compared to today, not many people were using social media and so the 2009 pandemic was not so widely known about. Twitter and Facebook are not only a means to sharing funny memes, music and videos, they are also excellent at informing (even mis-informing) the public about global issues. COVID-19 is, whether we like it or not, becoming a social event thanks to social media. The word is spreading faster than the disease and people are in fear of the coming of COVID-19 to their country , their neighbourhood and their families. Only time will be able to tell history how well we coped or how badly we fared.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2020


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