Coronavirus: Contained disease or epidemic?

Coronavirus: Contained disease or epidemic?

As the number of cases of Coronavirus rises to 42,638 in China and more than 190 in 28 countries, people have started comparing it to the epidemic which would leave humanity helpless and in despair, as mentioned in most mythological texts. The world is waiting with bated breath to see if our knowledge in the medical field is advanced enough to contain this potential recrudescence. The birthplace of this disease, China, has, however, come up with a seemingly effective plan.


The Chinese government has decided to stop any form of international travel by implementing travel restrictions and quarantines around several major areas to slow the spread of the disease. “They isolated the largest bubble of infections,” said Alessandro Vespignani, Sternberg Family Distinguished University Professor of Physics, Computer Science, and Health Sciences. “This is the largest mass quarantine or cordon that I have ever seen. 30 million people.”


Although the disease has not stopped spreading, these restrictions have certainly given science more time to come up with a cure to heal the patients. The disease, caused by an airborne virus, has made it difficult to import or export medicines and other equipment necessary for treatment. It has also made it difficult for doctors to try to contain patients in isolation as it is vital to test the patients for medicinal effects and results. “History teaches that you can’t really stop a respiratory virus,” said Wendy Parmet, Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Law and the director of the Centre for Health Policy and Law at the Northeastern University. “Maybe it buys some time, but it’s very dangerous because it’s easy to think of diseases as ‘over there, them, we built a wall—problem solved.’ And that’s just not the way it works, especially with respiratory diseases.”


The fact that the virus originated in a country with the highest population of 1.5 billion people is immensely concerning. The only option to control the disease is to cut off the most affected part of the country from the rest which is Wuhan, where 80% of the cases have been reported. Since China cannot remain cut off from the rest of the world forever, doctors and scientists need to find a cure soon.

“This is a global problem,” Vespignani said. “This is humanity versus viruses and pathogens. It’s a different war and we have to be all united in this war.”


Devika Mulye

Devika Mulye

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