Devil virus by Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

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If we take a look at international news, reports about the coronavirus in China have been in the headlines for the past one month. According to media reports, this deadly virus had appeared in an animal market located at Wuhan and then it spread rapidly. The WHO has already declared a global health emergency. The situation is so worrisome that Chinese President Xi Jinping, has termed the coronavirus a ‘devil virus’ and showed his firm commitment to defeating it. Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan Yao Jing, in an interview, informed that more than 400 people have lost their lives in China and approximately 20,000 are affected. Along with local residents in Wuhan, there is also a possibility for many foreigners, including Pakistani students, to be infected with this horrific virus. However, the government of China is committed to tackling the situation. Proper treatment of the affected, and steps to prevent it from spreading are the top priority tasks for the Chinese government. China has imposed severe restrictions on people’s movement and public gatherings. China has also established a hospital in just a short period of 10 days in the affected city of Wuhan to fight the epidemic infection. The research process, being carried out by Chinese scientists, further reflects the ongoing efforts to overcome this situation. China has succeeded to manufacture a medical test kit for the coronavirus in such short notice. Viral diseases have been around since ancient times. Even in today’s modern era, humans are helpless. The nature and spread of infectious diseases may vary in nature. Some viral diseases are considered very fatal and some have temporary effects with limited damage. The reason behind their transmission may be due to animals, humans or both. However, such viral diseases could be controlled if they are diagnosed and treated on time. The coronavirus, in my view, is not only China’s problem; the entire international community must come forward to fight against this ‘devil virus’. It is very regrettable that world powers usually prefer their own commercial interests over humanitarian issues. Conflicts are prolonged with a motive to promote the arms industry. Similarly, medical companies are also accused of inventing new diseases and then manufacturing vaccines for profit maximization. A recent report, in the UK’s ‘The Independent’ argued that the coronavirus is receiving extraordinary media coverage as compared to other viral diseases. According to the report, millions of people have been infected with the flu worldwide. In 2019, around 10,000 people died due to the flu in the United States and 180,000 people were hospitalized for treatment. Similarly, the WHO is of the view that approximately 650,000 people have lost their lives worldwide due to the flu. Interestingly, the flu death toll is much higher than the casualties due to the coronavirus. On the international front, there are some global players that are afraid of China’s rapid economic development. Unfortunately, some elements are trying to portray a negative image of China and the Chinese people. Due to such negative reporting, Chinese people are facing a discriminatory attitude in different countries. As has been proven by its history, I have a strong belief that China will obviously face this critical time bravely. Being a Pakistani national, it is a matter of concern that we are not yet prepared to face such an infectious disease. Pakistan is also at risk of getting epidemic coronavirus but we are ignorant in this regard. Many countries have called back their students from China but we are also lagging behind here. The worrisome condition related to health and education sectors is an open secret for everyone. Today, China, Japan, the US, India and other countries are trying their level best to defeat the coronavirus. A few days ago, Thai doctors provided treatment to a coronavirus infected patient with flu and AIDS medicines. During the last 72 years since independence, we failed to appoint eligible doctors and officers in the health sector; the situation remains the same today. Our neighbouring countries are more advanced in the fields of diagnostics and medical treatment. We are unable to conduct any quality research to control fatal diseases nor do we have the capacity to manufacture any medical kit locally. This situation needs our immediate attention to strengthen the health and education sectors.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani

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