Coronavirus – Risks and Interpretations
People wear face masks on January 30 at a street market in Hong Kong, where at least 10 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed at the time. (Miguel Candela/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Coronavirus – Risks and Interpretations

Al-Watan, Egypt, February 6

Both recent and ancient history tell us that epidemics are not new. In the past two decades, the world has witnessed periods of tension, fear and panic from diseases classified by the World Health Organization as epidemics. We witnessed this with the emergence of Ebola, SARS, bird flu, swine flu and Zika – all dangerous viruses that have been shown to originate from the bodies of animals and birds, and then be transmitted to humans after genetic mutations in the virus itself. The risk associated with these pathogens is due to multiple factors, such as the speed of transmission from one person to another, whether by contact or through inhalation. Usually, the virus is most worrisome when no effective drug or antidote is available. As for the current outbreak of coronavirus, its symptoms begin as the usual flu, causing difficulty in diagnosing the disease. While global health authorities have called on all countries to limit their citizens’ travel to affected areas, it is inevitable for the virus to spread across the world. The more interconnected our world is, the harder it becomes to control these viruses. There are several things that the Chinese should be exalted for, including their bold decision to stop public activities; close schools and universities; extend leaves for the beginning of the lunar year until February; isolate affected cities, in which approximately 56 million people live; and freeze transportation options to the areas where the virus has appeared. Within the Arab world, I’ve heard many voices claiming that coronavirus is divine punishment against the Chinese people due to their country’s unacceptable treatment of its Muslim minority. There is no doubt that the divine power controls everything happening in this universe, but one must always turn to research and science before pointing to divine intervention by God Almighty. The prevalent assumption among scientists and researchers, supported by practical evidence and famous precedents, is that the coronavirus is an updated strand of a previous virus that originated from bats or other wild animals consumed by humans in China. Such being the case, preventing the future occurrence of similar epidemics is only a matter of education and surveillance. – Hassan Abu Talib (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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