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Editorial: Turn the tide of corona!

The death toll in the coronavirus outbreak in China has now reached 1,016, after 108 people died from the virus on Monday, the highest daily toll since the outbreak began late last year. In addition, some 42,638 other people have caught the virus and are infected. Despite there is still ambiguity about the origin of this new strain of the virus, it is believed to have spread to humans from an animal as researchers have traced a potential link to the endangered pangolin. As things stand, the death toll from coronavirus has surpassed that of SARS in 2003 and its swift-paced spread around the world has panicked people. At least 25 countries have reported that some of their citizens are suffering from the virus. Among them are Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, India, and the UAE. However, no case has surfaced in Afghanistan so far or perhaps the public health employees haven’t been able to detect it. Nevertheless, given the pattern with which the virus is developing, we cannot rest assured and it being here isn’t totally out of the question. Lamentably, among the victims of this virus was Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, who is believed to have contracted the disease from a patient he was treating in Wuhan city, the epicenter of the storm. He was among the first ones in December last year to break the news of the virus but he was sadly accused of ‘rumor-mongering’ and disturbing social order by Chinese authorities who paid no heed to his warning. However, the 34-year-old doctor is now praised as a hero, posthumously, and the Chinese government is under serious fire for overlooking the initial warnings. Although the Chinese government could partly be in the right to be thinking of heading-off a public uproar but it should have paid attention to the signs. Chinese government’s glossing over harsh realities has come at a price of hundreds of deaths. Experts should be listened to and allowed to reveal problems, which otherwise fester and wreak havoc ultimately. Had Li’s warning been heeded, many lives could have been saved – including his. Therefore, here is a lesson for the Afghan government as well: to try its best to prevent the virus from entering the country but also no to try to silence narratives regarding the virus’s arrival here. If the virus has reached Afghanistan, the Afghan government should be open about it and seek help from the global village. As the WHO director-general said “this is time for solidarity, not stigma;” therefore, the whole world should join forces to turn the tide of corona and avoid withholding resources in order to cope with this deadly phenomenon. Moreover, China is a big power, and surely it will overcome the predicament.

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