As per today’s (26th March 2020) statistics, 471,576 COVID-19 cases have been reported in 198 countries out of which 21,297 are the number of deaths that have been reported. 114, 696 patients have recovered so far. COVID-19 is being considered as one of the worst pandemics the world has ever experienced. People are strictly advised to maintain social distance everywhere in the countries affected by this deadly virus. Cities and towns are all on lockdown. Police curfew is imposed in many countries in order to control the free movement of people. Countries are on lockdown unprecedently and their national boundaries are closed for any human movement. No country is left out from this pandemic. No capitalism nor communism can control it. No financial capacity nor economic power, nor high technology of modern era can stop it. No military superpower can challenge this unseen enemy of the entirety of humanity. It has no religion, ethnicity, language, race, region, political or economic ideologies. As a result, the entire world is paralyzed now. Every country is fighting for its own destiny. Highly respectable holy places such as the Vatican Church in Rome and Mecca in Saudi Arabia are closed and access is denied for congregational prayers and worship. Words such as quarantine, self-isolation, masks, social distance, coronavirus and lockdown have become commonly uttered words even by laymen. No country has the time nor capacity to look out for other countries except one or two countries such as Cuba although Cuba is a country isolated by the Western world. This is the present pathetic situation of our world. Fortunately or unfortunately we have all been given the opportunity to witness this great calamity.
COVID-19 is the coronavirus that has resulted in a global crisis, initially resulting in cases in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China in December 2019. The outbreak is referred to as COVID-19 and has caused infection from the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which is one of multiple coronaviruses that can infect humans. This was recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020. In fact, this virus has a several decades-long history in the world.
According to Stephen N.J. Korsman, in an article written by him in the year 2012, “The coronavirus diseases was first described in 1931, with the first coronavirus (HCoV-229E) isolated from humans in 1965.” There are multiple debates and arguments on the origin of the virus among leaders of the countries, scientists and scholars. Many blame China for developing it in the laboratories of Wuhan Province to use it as a biological weapon in the future against its enemies. Recently, Donald Trump, the US president referred to it as the “Chinese Virus” in a press conference and also did not fail to justify his statement saying that he referred to it as such, as it originated in China. Some say it originated from the food habits of the Chinese. Consuming bats and snakes resulted in this virus, as per the opinion of some. At the same time, China and its allies accuse the US of spreading this virus in China through its military personnel. In fact, looking at the prevailing situation of the world, nobody knows what has exactly happened and who developed this virus and for what purpose. This is because almost all countries including China and the US are seriously affected by this pandemic. It may not be the work of one particular country for the purpose of attacking or taking revenge from another country as it has affected every country including those countries which are suspected of spreading the virus.
The following table shows how the countries including some superpowers have become submissive in front of the invisible coronavirus;
As per the statistics available on 26th March 2020:
|Serial Number||Country||Total number of infected||Total number of deaths||Total number of recovered||Serious or Critical|
Note: I am certain that when I finish my writing of this article, this number will have changed (increased).
The most dangerous aspect of this pandemic is the fast and wide spreading nature of it. Within a time span of a month, the virus has spread to several countries. The high degree of the so-called globalization process has escalated the pandemic through human movements across national boundaries. Before some countries were able to realize the dangerousness of this pandemic, it had already spread and the situation was beyond their control. People of some countries did not take it as a serious matter despite the serious warnings of the governments with the advice of doctors and scientists. Italy is a good example in this regard.
Day by day, hour by hour the number of infected people is increasing. According to some predictions, it is expected for about 50 million people to be affected by this virus. There have been no positive signs of controlling or minimizing the number of infected people in the near future. Above all, the worst part of this pandemic is that there is no specific medicine to prevent or treat the disease. Scientists are trying their utmost best to discover a cure which may lead them to become saviors of the world. Experts predict that the future of this pandemic is going to be very dangerous than we all expect. Countries are locking down to prevent further escalation of the situation. For instance, the largest democracy of the world, India, has imposed a complete lockdown for 21 days (three weeks) to control the situation. The US President, Donald Trump, announced on Tuesday (24th March) that they will loosen the coronavirus lockdown in the United States and restart the economy within three weeks, stating that distancing measures are too disruptive. As of latest developments in the US shows us that the US president may not be able to do so as he wishes. More countries are joining in the list of lockdown. No rays of hope are seen. On the one hand, people are hopeless and on the other hand leaders are helpless.
The most powerful nuclear bombs of superpowers, the large number of missiles ranging to several hundreds of km, sophisticated war flights, submarines, fighter jets, and all modern military weapons and technologies have become useless and powerless in front of this invisible power of God. Nobody is spared from this pandemic including Queen Elizabeth of England, Prince Charles, Presidents and Prime Ministers of powerful countries, popular celebrities etc. No military and economic powers nor information technology can aid in overcoming this situation.
People have lost their lives like stray dogs on the streets. Cemeteries are full of dead bodies. Leaders of some countries are crying for help. No sentiments are shown by people. Relatives among whom are parents, children, siblings and spouses are inevitably challenged by this pandemic. Religious leaders of all religions urge devotees to pray to God. The entire world is in a desperate situation as it seems. People have started to acknowledge the actual meaning of life. All our imaginary powers have become null and void before people within days.
Many think very strongly that this is the right time to put all our political, economic, social, and religious differences aside and unite as one human nation of the world. No animosity nor antagonism will help us to overcome this issue. There are many lessons to be learnt from this COVID-19 crisis. It has taught us that there is no superior power to God. God’s tests are not confined by man-made national boundaries. Hence, why don’t we understand this and try to develop a new world order using this great opportunity? The world is rethinking and reshaping its order to a system where the countries are uniting despite their differences in order to bring back life to a smooth run.
If we deeply consider the actions of the world such as isolating North Korea, Iran or Cuba from the rest of the world or imposing economic sanctions on these countries we realize how meaningless it is. We must respect their sovereignty and acknowledge that only then can peace be brought about. No country can be punished because of its political, economic or religious ideologies. Each country has its own freedom and right to follow and implement whatever policies it wishes to, unless those policies are disturbing or threatening other peoples’ freedom. After all, we are all human beings who belong to different nations, ethnic groups, religions and beliefs. Let’s hope this current situation subsides and a better future for the world is achieved very soon.
*Dr. Mohamed Shariff Anees, Senior Lecturer in Political Science – University of Colombo