‘Coronavirus Will Kill Millions’

A Coronavirus strain that will probably not kill us all. Image by 葉 正道 Ben(busy), available on Flickr and free for commercial use.

Dear readers,

just to clarify: it probably won’t. This is just the type of scenario evoked by the mass media and I am, among other things, quite sick of it.

Here’s the thing: the newly emerged Coronavirus strain is indeed a big deal. Symptoms range from absent to mild to severe, potentially degenerating into viral pneumonia. Asymptomatic patients, who may go undiagnosed, can still spread the virus and, to date, nearly 2000 people have been infected. Wuhan, where the virus originated, and at least other 9 Chinese cities have been locked down to limit infection spreading, for a total of about 40 million people being currently isolated. Furthermore, no vaccine is yet available, due to the novelty of this one specific viral strain.

Although our understanding of this new pathogen is constantly evolving, our current knowledge should encourage us to adopt a serious and pragmatic attitude, which should remain free of counterproductive drama and paranoia. Out of the 2000 people infected, 56 have died from it, which means that this viral strain has a 3% mortality rate. To put this information into context, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), which are also caused by Coronavirus strains, have a mortality rate of 11% and 34%, respectively. It’s also worth mentioning that this type of infection poses less of a threat to healthy adults than it does to children, elderly adults, and those with preexisting health conditions.

Now, does this mean that we can all breath a sigh of relief? Not at all. The epidemic is raging, 40 million people are struggling, and we still do not have a vaccine to protect the most vulnerable. Does this mean that both the signet ring-bearing and signet ring-less kids of Durham (and some other Western randomers too) can stop being overly anxious about it? Yes. No more need to disguise selfish worries as existential dread concerning the destiny of the human species. If any, think of our fellow Chinese students whose lives may have been more closely affected by this situation.

I am aware that unmotivated anxiety is fueled by the apocalyptic narrative perpetuated by some newspapers. I am also aware that it may as well be a precaution: overestimating a threat is certainly safer than the alternative. It can cause huge damage in the process, though: a common fear can unify entire groups of people and spawn scapegoats and collective enemies among those who are perceived as ‘different’. On these premises, stay informed, stay rational, and stay kind.

Meanwhile, I hope you will enjoy my picks for the week:

Abel Bede – Who are you?-The Farewell Review

Scene from The Farewell. Copyright by production studio and/or distributor, intended for editorial use only. 

‘The film is also exceptional at portraying the challenges and coping mechanisms of first- and second-generation immigrants.’

Ben Cartwright – Review: Oklahoma

Image by DULOG

‘DULOG’s Gala show is the annual zenith of musical theatre in Durham, making expectations among the audience high.’

Natasha Ketel – Slam Poetry in Durham with Celestine Stilwell

Celestine performing

A fantastic interview by Natasha Ketel: ‘I spoke to the wonderful Celestine Stilwell, about writing, what it’s like being a part of the slam poetry team in Durham and the poetry that they can’t stop reading.’

Ben Summer – An Ode to the Nintendo DS

Image by Ben Summer

‘The defining aspect of the DS and its era wasn’t any unique abundance of quality or charm – it was that it was ours.’

Jose Narciso – Why Arts Matter

Image by Grand Rapids Art Museum. Available at GRAM under Creative Commons 2.0 license.

‘[…] when we think of art or examine one of its many creative forms, we compel ourselves to question: what is it all for?’

Welcome back to Durham, everyone!


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