The Preventable Rise of COVID-19

Iquer Mecalco-Hernandez

On November 17th, 2019, patient zero, a 55-year-old individual, would be the first person to contract COVID-19 in the Hubei province of China. Less than four months later, the world began to feel the effects of COVID as countries across the globe began to embrace nationwide lockdowns. Now, over a year later, the global total for deaths related to COVID is over 2 million, according to The New York Times, and the global economy is struggling to recover from the impacts. While there has been much talk about the incompetence of the US government and its handling of the pandemic, it is also important to recognize the government that not only attempted to cover up vital information about the virus in the early months, but may have gone as far as to silence those who dared to inform the world about it: the Chinese Communist Party.

COVID-19 had begun to spread in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China in the late months of 2019, with the first case believed to have originated in a wet-market where exotic and domestic animals were slain in unsanitary environments for sale and consumption. In the weeks following the first few cases, the local and federal governments had stalled taking immediate action towards preventing the spread of the virus from Wuhan and implementing proper quarantine measures. This is thought to be the case due to the country’s largest holiday, the Chinese New Year, and with it would come the mass migration of people from around the nation as people would travel to visit friends and family – which means the CCP could expect a surge in spending and revenue for an economy that had begun to stagnate.

In January of 2020, the WHO repeatedly praised the government of China for its swift acts to prevent the virus from spreading further and the release of information. However, insider reports would paint a different light: one of uncooperativeness and denial of information, according to the Associated Press.

In December of 2019, Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist in Wuhan Central Hospital, attempted to spread awareness about the severity of the virus and its potential worldwide hazard after he began studying seven cases of a disease that he thought to be of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) origin. But shortly after publicly speaking out against the incompetence of the local government and their attempts to control the virus, he was harassed by authorities and ordered to halt at once for allegedly spreading rumors and “severely disrupting social order,” according to the BBC. Unfortunately, Dr. Li Wenliang was hospitalized after contracting the new Coronavirus and passed away three weeks after being hospitalized.

While it is arguable that the Chinese government suppressed information and took little action at the beginning of the pandemic to prevent public fear, it is unacceptable that it refused to cooperate with the WHO and that it harassed physicians and hindered their attempts to inform the public.

However, while COVID-19 may have originated in China and the refusal of their government to cooperate with the prevention of the virus serves as a wake-up call for all, the increase of globalization in the 21st century means that other governments should have taken multilateral action in preventing the spread after observing China’s inability to do so. We may have thought that the governments would have acted on time to prevent a pandemic but as we know, this wasn’t the case as local and federal governments around the world struggled to contain and prevent the virus in a meaningful manner for reasons of either incompetence and or a lack of resources. Because of this, we must take action now to prevent other pandemics from being affected by the inability of governments that are unable or unwilling to prevent the spread of the virus and prevent the further loss of life domestically and abroad.