As the world was preparing to celebrate the passing of 2019 and welcoming 2020, just before the toasts and countdowns were to begin, the decade’s most consequential development of all broke the surface. On 31st December, a Chinese Government website declared the detection of a “pneumonia of unknown cause” in the area neighbouring the South China seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, a city consisting of 11 million people.
In the next three months after the announcement about the unknown virus, the world has been plunged into chaos. Soon the virus was determined to be a part of the coronavirus family, an all-new strain named COVID-19. No treatment or cure is discovered yet and after being declared as a pandemic, the virus froze international travel, extinguished economic activities and confined humanity to their homes, infecting more than a million people, with the stats rising every day. Till date, the COVID-19 has claimed more than 95,000 deaths worldwide in less than four months.
But all of this was unimaginable at the end of December when everyone was getting ready to celebrate the New Year with the hopes of making 2020 their year. But 2020 started like something which no one could’ve expected. Let’s take a look at the drastic changes that started happening since the inception of 2020 –
Discovery of a new Coronavirus Strain –
On 8th of January, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) told the world that the cases of pneumonia reported since December in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, could possibly because of a new coronavirus strain.
In December, 59 people were officially diagnosed with the illness, which caused serious respiratory problems. The confirmed cases included multiple employees from a Wuhan market where live animals were sold for food.
Speculation of SARS
The new virus showed symptoms of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), a coronavirus that causes nearly 800 deaths in 30 countries, originating from Hong Kong and China in 2002-2003.
The first death from the virus was announced on January 11 in China and the epidemic spread across different provinces of the country before reaching beyond the borders of China.
China announces lockdown
In an attempt to contain the spread, China took the radical step of confining its people. Wuhan became the first city to be locked down followed by the whole of Hubei on January 25, restricting 56 million people from the rest of the world.
By the end of January, the WHO declared it to be a global health emergency.
Soon, international airlines started reducing their flights to mainland China and tourists started postponing their vacation plans.
How it all started?
In early February, researchers in China identified the pangolin, a scaly endangered mammal, as the possible link that initiated the spread of the virus from bats to humans.
Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist in Wuhan succumbed to the disease. The doctor was among a group of people who raised the alarm about the virus in late December but was censored by the authorities in Hubei province.
Although much remained unknown about the new Coronavirus, it got a new name, “COVID-19”.
February 15, the first death was announced outside Asia, in France.
The number of infectious cases rose drastically in Italy, South Korea and Iran, by the end of February.
On March 24, the International Olympic Committee took the historic decision to postpone the Summer Games which were to be held in Tokyo to 2021.
Increasing concern around the world
WHO declared COVID-19 a “pandemic” and asked the world to take action on March 11.
The US began to seal its borders to foreign visitors from Europe.
World stock markets suffered significant losses. Meanwhile, Governments and central banks announced massive aid packages.
The panic grew and long queues started piling up in supermarkets.
Lockdown in Most of the countries
Many countries worldwide followed with different forms of lockdown, as the death toll continued to rise and medical facilities struggled to cope.
By April 2, half of the world’s population was called on or asked by their authorities to stay inside their homes to fight the outbreak.
Flights were grounded, schools and universities closed, and employees were asked to work from home.
Madrid turned an ice rink into a morgue while New York opened emergency field hospitals in Central Park.
The world has not seen such a crisis since 1945
The coronavirus pandemic is said to be the worst global crisis since World War 2, by the UN at the end of March. It has the potential of triggering conflicts around the world and an economic recession “that probably has no parallel in the recent past”
This outbreak has changed the world in numerous unimaginable ways and is still continuing to do so. The death toll is rising every day and so are the number of infected cases. The guidelines are changing every day and nothing is predictable anymore. But with everyone standing together to fight this, better days are sure to come. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, we just have to make it through.