After more than two months of nationwide efforts to fight the coronavirus in China, the cumulative number of cured and discharged patients from hospitals has exceeded 88 percent of the total confirmed cases, and the number of newly confirmed cases has been returned to zero. Currently, there are only some imported cases that are being isolated from the community. There is no doubt that WHO and the international community accept that the campaign in China has achieved decisive and important results and the country's existing cases will vanish soon. The Chinese government and people are proud of the country's soft power, thanks to the traditional Chinese collectivism and culture.
Due to ideological differences, the western media would not chant the praises of China, but they cannot ignore the achievements of the Chinese campaign against the coronavirus. The Australian media has even alarmingly discovered that the Chinese Communist Party is teaching the western world a lesson.
More and more cases of coronavirus, meanwhile, have been confirmed in more than 100 countries and regions outside China, including the rapidly growing number of tens of thousands in the United States. But the number of done virus tests in the United States is far below the number of people actually infected and the people who need to be tested. According to Zhong Nanshan, a well-known academician and chief expert on respiratory infectious diseases in China, the fatality rate of coronavirus in the United States is 3 percent. The figure is higher than in other Chinese provinces outside Wuhan, suggesting that many patients may go undetected.
America's politicians have been quick to blame China and Europe for the outbreak, who should have focused on aggressive measures to halt its spread. WHO's director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus criticized some countries that have taken no action on the crises. He said in a conference on March 11 that we had never seen coronavirus cause a pandemic, for many countries or communities that are dealing with the large scale spread of the infection, the challenge is not whether they are able to do something, but how much they intend to do so. In the past two weeks, he said, there has been a 13-fold increase in the number of new cases of coronavirus diagnosed outside China.
American President Donald Trump, in a nationally televised speech, stressed that the coronavirus from the start is a "foreign virus" and a "Chinese virus," originated in China and spread across the world. Many American politicians shared the same tone with Trump, and Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State of the US, did not use WHO's given name COVID-19, but called the coronavirus as "Wuhan virus." US assistant national security adviser O'Brian went so far as to accuse China of covering up the outbreak. US politicians, led by the President, tried to downplay the outbreak at the start of the crisis, focusing instead on Trump's re-election campaign, the volatility of stock market and the rise and fall of oil prices. When the outbreak surged to the point where it could not be covered up, they turned in a rush to transfer the contradictions, and took China as a scapegoat to guide the American people to blame and even hate China, so as to play down their administrative responsibilities.
Ironically, the next day after Trump's televised speech, US capital markets reacted to the US leadership's incompetence with a "circuit breaker" that push the DOW Jones down to 2,352 points, its biggest one-day fall since 1987. Market panic was exacerbated by multiple factors, with the VIX, the fear gauge, rising more than 40 per cent to its highest level since the 2008 financial crisis.
Are there any hidden outbreaks of coronavirus in the United States? This has been frequently questioned by the people. President Trump admitted that 29 million people caught the flu in the United States last year bringing deaths of more than 20,000. Since it is so, any of them in the flu deaths actually died of coronavirus? Here comes the answer.
At a hearing in the House of Representatives on March 11, Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), acknowledged that there are cases in the US where people who were diagnosed with the flu died from coronavirus.
We also saw a true story of covering up and allowing the spread of coronavirus. According to a New York Times report, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, a Chinese-American Ms Helen (Helen Chu Y.) in the initial stage of the outbreak, noticed a new case of coronavirus in Seattle, Washington where she lives. She and her team had been trying to virus test the case in their lab, but officials of relevant departments kept rejecting her application.
The "confirmed case 1" from Seattle, who had traveled to Wuhan, was initially rejected for failing to meet the CDC's strict testing criteria, and turned out to be positive for the new coronavirus eventually. The nation's first case, No. 15, with an "unknown path of infection" in the United States, also failed to meet the CDC's screening threshold and had to wait for several days before being allowed to test, and confirmed positive.
Helen's team couldn't wait. On Feb. 25, they took the plunge and decided to start testing for the coronavirus without government approval, but Washington State regulators urgently ordered her lab to stop testing. Helen's test confirmed their worst fears - that a local teenager with no recent travel history had been tested positive. This indicates the new coronavirus has taken root in the United States. In just a few weeks, the virus has killed more than 20 people in the Seattle area, making the city the worst hit by coronavirus in the United States.
So far, there has been a severe shortage of nucleic acid testing kits in the United States for the coronavirus. The test can only be applied for people with severe symptoms, and many patients in urgent testing need couldn't be arranged in time, and these patients are treated as influenza. A 32-year-old Chinese medical assistant in New York who knew he had coronavirus but was being treated for the flu waited for a week for his desired medication, a report says.
The entire NBA team has been suspended after three players were diagnosed with the coronavirus. A number of team owners have suggested testing on every player in the league for during the suspension, only to be told that the testing kits are not enough and it is impossible for the NBA to test every player, no matter rich or famous. Anthony Fauci, President of the American Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said: "the US health care system is not meeting our needs. It's a huge failure, and we have to admit it."
As of the morning of March 10, only 6,563 people in the United States had been tested for the coronavirus, according to the Huffington Post. Cortez, the youngest member of Congress, told Fox News on March 12 that it is difficult for the average American to get tested for a coronavirus, but it seems that the richer and more powerful you are, the more possible you can have it. If you're not rich, it's very difficult to get health care.
According to USA Today on March 12, several US media outlets quoted a US congressional doctor as saying that a third of the US population is expected to be infected with the coronavirus.
Since the end of February, the coronavirus outbreak in the United States has been growing faster and faster. A Chinese living America said that since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, he has often heard biased remarks from American friends, such as China's control of speech and cover-up of facts. However, China has made significant progress in controlling coronavirus, and has kept releasing public information on confirmed, suspected and fatal cases.
On March 2, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stopped updating its real time data on new cases of coronavirus, netizens in the United States were infuriated. Although the government gave the reason that the local statistics were not accurate, so it was not necessary to report the outbreak in real time, many Americans still believed that the federal government was covering up the truth.
US officials keep saying that ordinary people don't need to wear face masks, and it's true that most Americans don't wear face masks. But is it really they don't need the masks? How to explain about the driving force grabbing the masks and making the mask to the sky-high price? In fact, the shortage of masks in the United States is 99%, and most of the production is outside the country. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if coronavirus were to become a pandemic in the United States, the total number of N95 masks needed would be 3.5 billion a year.
(To be continued)
Mr. Arriola is president and publisher of AseanTimes Magazine.