Coronavirus: Excitement without Borders

If you follow the news – even in Europe -, the coronavirus infections that reportedly started in Wuhan features prominently.

This can hardly be explained with the dangers it may pose to individuals, at least for now. Then why the excitement, while climate change (probably) continues and poses a much greater threat?

What becomes news depends on what people can relate to. When a royal couple decides to move to Canada (but not quite, only a bit), it’s news, because it suggests that there must be a VIP family conflict.

When murder occurs in a place where overseas tourists go, media are more likely to report the case than if the same thing happens in Gaborone, or in a tranquil Swiss village off the beaten track.

And when shit happens in China, it becomes an online game: because new statistics and measures are announced every hour, the news seems to suggest that the situation becomes ever more grim.

Besides, because the Chinese authorities earned themselves a bad record  during the SARS epidemic early this century, there are suspicions that the worst news may still be covered up.

And as Wuhan closes down public transport (including trains and flights), this comes across as truly dramatic, particularly in countries where such actions, in modern times, are unheard of.

But then, draconic measures are nothing unusual in China (as many victims of arbitrary police and other state organs can tell, if they dare). And besides, if you live in Wuhan and own a car, you can go wherever you like. I haven’t heard of Wuhan citizens being refused a flight once they have reached, say, Nanjing International Airport.

Life goes on: the South Korean government, only on Monday, published plans for individual travels from South to North, and one of the options includes traveling through China (“or other countries”). Yes, you may still plant an apple tree.

When Wuhan adopts measures the way it does now, there are always two ways of interpreting them: one may think that if things are that bad, they are probably even worse.  But then, maybe the authorities simply want to be efficient this time. It depends on how you look at it.

Time for me to hit the road. And I’m sure that I’m much more likely to be killed in a traffic accident, than by a virus from Wuhan.

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