By Sola Ogundipe
A new infirmity – the novel coronavirus disease – dubbed COVID-19, has literally put life on hold. The world is in lockdown and humanity is on pause.
Rarely has one disease entity gripped the world’s attention so fiercely or influenced its intention so dramatically as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The disease which has sickened 140,174 persons and killed 5,123 persons in 136 countries (as of Friday 13th March, 2020), has no boundaries and respects nobody. As it spreads from continent to continent, country to country, city to city, street to street, house to house and individual to individual, the human and social and economic costs are escalating day by day.
On the 11th of March, 2020, the World Health Organization, WHO, formally characterised the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Everyone is now in survival mode. The rapid spread of the deadly coronavirus is impacting negatively on all aspects of life – health, education, security, travel, tourism, trade, sports, entertainment, business – COVID-19 has it covered.
Since January 2020, when the outbreak hit the limelight, the financial markets have plunged steeply even as global trade has slumped by half and oil prices are down by about a quarter so far. Even the Stock Markets are now in full-blown panic mode. The world is in a quandary.
People over 60, or living with chronic illness should stock up on goods and buckle down for a lengthy stay at home.
Many persons will be exposed to COVID-19 over the next year or so with many people in the U.S. getting sick, a top CDC official said, recommending that people over 60 and anyone with chronic medical conditions buckle down for a lengthy stay home.
“This virus is capable of spreading easily and sustainably from person to person … and there’s essentially no immunity against this virus in the population,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases.
”It’s fair to say that, as the trajectory of the outbreak continues, many people in the United States will at some point in time, either this year or next, be exposed to this virus and there’s a good chance many will become sick,” she said. Most people won’t develop serious symptoms, but 15-20 percent of the people who are exposed to the virus get severely sick, she said.
Of the 70,000 cases WHO scientists looked at, only about 2 percent were in people younger than 19. The odds of developing COVID-19 increase with age, starting at age 60. It’s especially lethal for people over 80.
”Starting at age 60, there is an increasing risk of disease and the risk increases with age.”People with diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and other serious underlying conditions are more likely to develop “serious outcomes, including death,” she said.
The CDC is recommending people with underlying conditions or who are over 60 to stock up on medications, household items and groceries to stay at home “for a period of time,” she said.
Travellers with underlying health conditions avoid taking any cruises anywhere in the world. “We also recommend people at higher risk avoid non-essential travel, such as long plane trips,” she said.
It’s ‘false hope’ coronavirus will disappear in the summer like the flu, says WHO
World leaders should not assume COVID-19 will be seasonal and subside in the summer, like the flu, the World Health Organization has said.
“We have to assume that the virus will continue to have the capacity to spread,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies programme, said at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “It’s a false hope to say, yes, that it will disappear like the flu.”
“We hope it does. That would be a godsend,” he added. “But we can’t make that assumption. And there is no evidence.”
Earlier in the outbreak, US health officials said there was a hypothesis among mathematical modellers that the outbreak “could potentially be seasonal” and relent in warmer conditions.
“Other viral respiratory diseases are seasonal, including influenza and therefore in many viral respiratory diseases we do see a decrease in disease in spring and summer,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said. “And so we can certainly be optimistic that this disease will follow suit.”
COVID-19 has been ‘circulating unchecked’ for weeks, says doctor who treated 1st US coronavirus patient
Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips recalled the day the first U.S. patient infected with COVID-19, a 35-year-old man from Snohomish County in Washington state had taken a “turn for the worse.”
“He was day nine in his course and he actually started going downhill, started getting worse,” said Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer of Providence St. Joseph Health, where the patient was treated.
At first, the patient only had common cold-like symptoms, Compton-Phillips said. But very quickly he began to have shortness of breath and a cough, she said. His X-ray also showed viral pneumonia. He needed supplemental oxygen and had to be put on an experimental antiviral treatment. The patient has recovered and has been released from the hospital.
Italy quarantines entire country
With over 1,000 deaths, the pandemic has swept through Italy like no other Western country, prompting a nationwide lockdown not seen in a peacetime democracy, overwhelming hospitals. Italy practically put itself into lockdown, shutting off the rest of the world. The country has told its 60 million population to “stay at home” until April 3, allowing travel only for the most urgent work or health reasons.
In several other affected countries, millions are either under “voluntary self-isolation” or compulsory quarantine.
Across Europe and most parts of Asia and the Middle East, schools are shut, markets are closed, churches and mosques are inaccessible, sport is thrown into turmoil and the very essence of humanity, socialisation is abandoned.
Rome’s Catholic churches were ordered closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, in a move believed to be unprecedented in modern times.
Europe is shutting down schools, sport is being thrown into turmoil and the markets are tanking.
The economy, sports & aviation industry:
Tracking the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is a near-impossible task. From Washington to Hubei and Milan to London the impact of the coronavirus disease on all facets of life is monumental.
The financial markets have slumped as the pandemic broke and the virus has moved into the real economy. The full economic impact may not be known for some time, but there is no doubt the consequences would be dire.
The aviation industry is probably one of the earliest and largest causalities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has decimated many airline markets in Asia, Europe, Africa and the USA in particular. For many, the timing of the plunge is particularly unfortunate.
Attempts to reduce the risk of the spread of the virus by air transport only led to the shutting down of many airline routes. At the onset, several countries banned flights to and from China, but later on, as the epicenter of the pandemic shifted to Europe, flight bans were extended to Italy, Iran, Japan and South Korea. Korean Air suspended 90 percent of overall services, and grounded 100 aircraft as more than 100 countries imposed travel bans and quarantine procedures on the country.
Sports and tourism
Many sporting events have been cancelled or rescheduled. The Spanish league matches are off.
This is supposed to be a big year for the sports and tourism sectors that planned for a significant surge in visitor traffic. Japan is particularly unfortunate, The government had big plans for tourist growth and economic priority in readiness for the 2020 summer Olympics. COVID-19 has changed the landscape of the sporting world.
The virus has continued to infect at exponential rates, and large gatherings – such as attending a football, lawn tennis or basketball game. So, the decision to end the tournaments, leagues, sports, etc. is the only effective way that these organizations can ensure they aren’t part of the problem, but instead part of the solution.
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