The World vs The Pandemic
By Maya Shavit
The spring of 2020 is a historical time period for every country that has been tasked with facing COVID-19 externally and internally. With the spread of coronavirus within countries, entire cultures have shifted and world leaders are scrounging for solutions. The world has fought back against the pandemic with a variety of unique approaches.
The COVID-19 pandemic originated in Wuhan, China, in December of 2019. Since then, Wuhan has ceased to be the epicenter of the disease, and the population of China has been on the mend. However, China took measures that other countries considered extreme at the time that have since proven to help flatten the curve by reducing the number of COVID-19 cases. Wuhan, a city of more than eleven million citizens, was cut off from the world on January 23, 2020. Chinese government officials took action to confine all people to their homes. Huiyao Wang, a senior adviser to China's government, told USA TODAY, "'No one left behind' was the slogan in Wuhan." Chinese government officials would go door to door doing personal medical checks, and no one was allowed to leave their home as the number of confirmed cases outside of Wuhan grew exponentially. While thousands within China's borders began dying from the illness, other countries like Thailand, South Korea, and Japan reported more than 570 confirmed cases, leading the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency.
On January 31, 2020, The United States cut off all travel for all foreign nationals who had traveled to China within two weeks prior to that day, excluding the immediate family members of American citizens or permanent residents. At that point, almost 10,000 people worldwide had been affected, and the number of deaths outside of China had escalated, in places such as the Philippines. Foreign travel had been changed forever at this point as the Japanese cruise ship "Diamond Princess" screened quarantined passengers for COVID-19. On the ship, a total of 621 individuals were infected. Borders were closed in Asia, North America, and South America as a new epicenter, Iran, emerged.
Iran contains the largest population in the Middle East, and the country became affected by the virus from an unknown source. The Iranian government confirmed over 38,000 cases in the country and decided to participate in the World Health Organization's global trial that tests how effective four popular coronavirus treatments are. This includes a drug combo used against HIV and the antimalarial drug chloroquine. Besides the WHO's trial medicines, Iranian scientists are running at least a dozen other clinical trials, including using medications designed to treat diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, to attempt to find treatments. Iran began injecting antibody-rich blood of people who fully recovered from COVID-19 into suffering patients, which led other countries to start to follow suit in similar courses of treatment. As Iran began to explore new treatments, Milan, Italy, and Paris, France, drew attention in Europe.
Following Milan and Paris Fashion Week in Europe, the cases of COVID-19 skyrocketed. The yearly phenomenon took place in February and March with precautions like face masks provided for guests at many shows, but gatherings of over 5,000 occurred, which only assisted the spread. As of mid-April, Italy and France have two of the highest numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with France confirming 109,252 cases and Italy confirming 172,434.
The French medical research center, Institut Pasteur in Paris, has confirmed that it will start trials with a new vaccine for COVID-19 in July. France also has a controversial policy regarding face masks. No one can purchase a face mask from a pharmacy, even on prescription, to ensure that all face masks go to doctors and nurses on the front lines. All people who can stay home are told to be self-isolating during the pandemic, so those who cannot can have access to enough face masks.
Harsher than France, Italy is locked down with no interactions between individuals as they have claimed the spot for the third-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world. The number, however, has declined significantly since its spike in March. The confirmed cases have steadily declined in progression as the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Italy's top health institute, declared that they had reached a plateau in the number of cases thanks to their national lockdown.
Worldwide, the United States has the most significant number of COVID-19 cases, approaching 700,000 confirmed. The epicenter of the virus in the US is known to be New York, with more than 222,000 confirmed cases in the state. New York, like most states, has a full lockdown that will hopefully lead to a plateau in cases soon. All but five states have comprehensive lockdown precautions in the United States. It is the duty of all citizens to stay home and protect themselves and others.
In this unprecedented time, everyone is responsible for the safety of themselves and their community. Around the globe, new safety measures have changed lifestyles completely, but no one is alone. Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is a universal cause, and it is each individual's job to be strong in the face of uncertainty.