By ARUSH MEHROTRA
I am sure many of you are familiar with Wuhan. Whether you are watching the TV, reading the newspaper, or just conversing with your family and friends, the word Wuhan seems to inevitably find its way in any of those situations.
Wuhan, the capital of Central China’s Hubei Province, is speculated to be where the infamous disease COVID-19, or coronavirus as it is colloquially known, seems to have originated. More specifically, a wet market, a street market with both live and dead animals, in Wuhan is considered to have been the source of the first transmission of COVID-19 to the human population.
From then on, COVID-19 has spread like a wildfire. As of April 1, COVID-19 has affected 935,000 people and has caused the death of 47,000 people. This marks the mortality rate at close to 5.0%.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, close to 180 countries around the world have reported this disease’s presence. As the numbers continue to rise, nations are taking more and more aggressive actions in an attempt to combat this disease.
While many people look upon China negatively given their association with the origin of the disease, China has had arguably the most aggressive and effective response to the disease that we have seen thus far. Since January 23rd, Wuhan and neighboring cities in the Hubei Province have been on full lockdown. According to the New York Times, this has affected over fifty million people, equivalent to the population of Texas and Florida combined.
Furthermore, two new hospitals (Huoshenshan and Leishenshan Hospital) were built in Wuhan in just a matter of days, specifically to deal with the large influx of those afflicted with COVID-19. Combined, these two hospitals added 2,600 new hospital beds.
A unique and innovative solution the Chinese government implemented to monitor the spread of the disease involved two of the most popular apps in the world: AliPay and WeChat. AliPay, a mobile payment platform, is used by around 633 million people from mainland China according to the China Internet Network Information Center. According to CNBC, WeChat, China’s most popular messaging platform, is used by 1 billion Chinese people.
The government used these apps to track the movement of people known to be infected with the disease. A color-coding system was used to designate a person’s health status and was checked by guards at public transportation centers to mitigate the spread of the disease.
Another country we may look to as a model for success in containing the outbreak is South Korea. While China was able to control the spread of the disease through large-scale lockdowns, South Korea’s key to success was in its extensive testing infrastructure. Unlike the U.S., which has conducted close to 74 tests per million people according to the CDC, South Korea has conducted more than 270,000 per million.
This has helped dramatically in fighting the disease and the numbers clearly show this. On February 29, South Korea reported 909 new cases. When one compares this to the mere 74 new cases reported on March 17, one cannot deny that something is working.
Now, many members of a free society like America would object to any sort of tracking by the government, like China did, as an invasion of privacy. Some may also argue that being forced to quarantine may be a restriction of their rights as a person living in a free and democratic society.
However, what we must realize is that it is up to us, the American people, to do everything we can to stop this outbreak. Everyone has a responsibility to protect not only themselves but their family members as well, some of whom may be at a heightened risk if they contract this disease.
We are all this together. The destiny of the future depends on our actions today. Let’s learn and work together to take action to ensure a brighter future.