COVID-19 takes a world tour: Public responds in panic shopping & racism

Written by Nisal Abeyakoon

Initial outbreak

In late December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown cause was reported by health authorities in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China which was later discovered by health authorities to be a newly emerged virus widely known as the ÔÇÿCoronavirusÔÇÖ (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2).

The initial cases mostly had links to the Huanan Seafood Market and therefore is believed to have a zoonotic origin possibly in bats of the ÔÇÿRhinolophus genusÔÇÖ. The earliest reported symptoms occurred on 1 December 2019. Out of the 1st cluster of reported cases, two-thirds were found to have a link with the wet market.

WHO response measures

On 30 January 2020, the WHO declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), the sixth PHEIC since the measure was first invoked during the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

On 5 February, the WHO appealed to the global community for a $675 million contribution to fund strategic preparedness in low-income countries.

On 11 February, the WHO in a press conference established COVID-19 as the name of the disease. In a further statement on the same day, Dr.Tedros Ghebreyesus (WHOÔÇôDirector-General) stated that he had briefed with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who agreed to provide the “power of the entire UN system in the response.” A UN Crisis Management Team was activated as a result, allowing co-ordination of the entire United Nations response, which the WHO states will allow them to “focus on the health response while the other agencies can bring their expertise to bear on the wider social, economic and developmental implications of the outbreak”.

On 11 March the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak an official pandemic.

Sri Lankan Airlines ÔÇÿmercy flightÔÇÖ crew brings back Wuhan students to Sri Lanka.

Amid all the chaos the virus was inflicting around the world this brave 16 member crew who risked their lives by going into the very epicenter of the virus rescued 33 students and showed us all how truly proud it is to be Sri Lankan.

COVID-19 reaches Sri Lanka

The first Sri Lankan who was tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11th, 2020 was a 52-year-old tour guide (now recovered). Within 1 week close to 85 individuals were tested positive in the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Puttalam & Rathnapura and the country was put into immediate lockdown to stop the virus from spreading further.

Current status around the world

There have been more than 2 Million confirmed cases reported worldwide in which over 500,000 have been recovered & more than 150,000 deaths have been reported worldwide

Early symptoms
People may be sick between 1ÔÇô14 days before developing symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever, tiredness & dry cough. Older people & people with other medical conditions are more vulnerable to this disease.

Methods of preventing contraction

Wash your hands often with soap & water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place

Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol

Avoid touching your eyes, nose & mouth

Self-isolate yourself from other people

Wear a face mask when you go into the public

Media exaggeration

Even though this epidemic has turned into a serious issue around the world it will be wrong to deny the fact that the media has used this as an opportunity to exaggerate the true depth of the virus and has inflicted fear and confusion among the public

Public reaction

As expected fingers were pointed towards China which is where the initial outbreak occurred, some world leaders even went to the extreme of calling it the ÔÇÿChinese virusÔÇÖ It was quite disappointing to see that some individuals were most concerned about pointing fingers and buying large stocks of supply than helping in however they can

What we can do as the youth

This global pandemic caused economies to collapse, people lost their jobs and loved ones.

Covid-19 caused fear and unrest among the public which drove the public into buying large stocks of supplies with no moral obligation towards other citizens who also require supplies which then caused fights & riots

I believe that we as the youth have a lot of things to learn about from this incident like how important personal hygiene is, how racism does not stop pandemics and buying large stocks of supplies a selfish act of cowardice.


check out the post below for a message from the SLMUN 2020 ExCo regarding COVID-19