With the Wuhan virus seemingly infecting and killing people far from the epicenter, it might be wise to halt all travel plans for this Chinese Lunar New Year. But, it is a difficult decision for the Chinese all over the world.
China is home to over a billion Chinese. Even just considering 10% of that population travelling within China during the festive period, that is still a good number of warm bodies potentially carrying and spreading the virus. The danger lies in exporting the viruses in greater numbers out of China. We are talking about a potentially explosive surge and exponential increase in infection rates. That is not good for everyone.
Perhaps, it would do us all good if people just stopped visiting each until the WHO declares a state of normalcy again. When lives are at stake, preserving them takes priority over seeing other people once a year (and potentially spreading the virus).
And that is a brave decision that needs to go viral.
Update: 31 January 2020
Singapore has extended travel bans to all China visitors. Meanwhile, Thailand, US, and South Korea confirmed local human-to-human transmission. Across the Facebook pages of Singapore news media accounts, citizens voiced their displeasure at the government for letting Wuhan citizens into Singapore. Now, it is difficult to ascertain whether the government banned China travellers coming in because of citizen displeasure or upon WHO’s declaration of a global emergency.
What I find interesting is that a vocal minority seem to think that the Wuhanians willingly exported the disease worldwide. We know that the virus has an incubation period of 2 to 10 (some say 14) days. It follows Wuhan citizens would not know if they were infected before flying out of the country and landing all over the world. To say that the Wuhanians deliberately infected everyone else is an unfair statement to make.
Amidst all the commotion surrounding the novel virus, the susceptibility to falling prey to sensationalist headlines and falsehoods seem to remain high for Singaporeans. If we consider ourselves responsible and informed citizens, we must be able to ascertain the reliability of updates and news. I know it is difficult. It’s just not impossible. Furthermore, we ought not to spread hatred, fear, panic, and chaos. It is right that we update and share news. But, that should not come at a cost of inducing panic and introducing noise to what matters.
The lessons learnt from SARS have equipped our medical industry with the knowledge in tackling the novel virus, and I do not expect Singapore to react any lesser. It is however, the behaviour of adults that have lived through the SARS-days that worries me more so than the coronavirus itself. We all know someone who goes around politicising and countering anything and everything that our government does. To put down the government is one thing. But, to belittle the actions that the government has taken in order to safeguard national interests and safety of its citizens during a crisis? Come on.