The U.S. is close to banning travel to and from northern Italy because of the coronavirus. Only “essential” visits are now advised. The rest of Italy has received only a cautionary warning.
While the world was watching coronavirus unfold in China, Italy and South Korea became incubators for the virus. Confirmed infections in Italy rose 50% in 24 hours to 1,600, with the death toll now at 34. Italian travelers have carried the infection to Brazil, Mexico, Algeria, Nigeria, and the Dominican Republic. Who would have thought of Italians as disease vectors?
Why northern Italy? It makes sense because the northern regions, especially Lombardy (Milan), are the most cosmopolitan. Italian businessmen travel extensively to China where many factories churn out Italian products. Italy’s luxury brands are sold around the globe, meaning more business travel abroad. Italian authorities do not know who Patient Zero is (or was). He could be an Italian business person or a Chinese visitor to Italy. Milan is home to il Quartiere Cinese, the oldest and biggest Chinatown in Italy. There are some 321,000 citizens of Chinese stock in Italy, and who knows how many illegals – almost all in the northern regions.
The world seems scary enough with terrorism, endless wars, and wholesale human migrations. Now add a pandemic with economic hysteria and things seem out of control. Borders are becoming mere suggestions.
The other day, I vaguely recalled a flu epidemic I lived through as a kid. It was the 1957 Asian Flu pandemic. Boomers may remember how it affected school attendance (November, 1957 – March, 1958). That virus struck kids and the elderly. Before I caught it, my elementary school classes were already decimated, although I don’t recall any classmates or relatives dying. The flu eventually petered out with the warm weather, but some 68,000 people died in the U.S. One positive outcome was the development of flu vaccines.
The flu is still with us, invariably coming from East Asia with its obscene animal husbandry. CNBC reports that 19 million people have come down with the flu in the U.S. with 180,000 ending up in the hospital and 10,000 dead, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu season, which started in September and can run until May, is currently at its peak and poses a greater health threat to the U.S. than the new coronavirus, physicians say. Besides, this virus isn’t killing off kids and generally healthy adults. It’s deadly to people with pre-existing conditions – but at a higher rate compared to the flu.
So, how much panic does coronavirus warrant? A vaccine will surely be developed as more people survive it. But will the world economy recover? Will free trade survive? Will our dependence on Chinese manufacturing be reconsidered?
When this is over, many things will have to change. First and foremost, Europe and the U.S. must wean themselves off Red China. Second, that part of traditional Chinese culture which puts the world at risk for flus, viruses, and plagues needs a concerted intervention by world leaders and the media. Political correctness be damned!
It’s curious that these viruses usually come from China rather than, say, India. No country in the world has more open defecation than India, where one in two people defecate outside. Every year, 200,000 children in India die from diseases caused by fecal contamination. But, Indians are mostly vegetarians – it the human/animal mix that produces the strange viruses in China.
It’s a constant challenge to stay ahead of Asian viruses. The U.S. is fortunate in having Dr. Anthony Fauci as long-time Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. His guidance is paramount in President Trump’s newly formed task force on coronavirus. All the major Italian American organizations have honored his work and his integrity. So, it comes as a shock when some of the mainstream media (including the Washington Post) suggest that he is being “muzzled” by the Trump Administration, that he is sugarcoating the danger of this virus. He categorically denies such accusations. If you don’t want to believe China, Trump, or Pence, you can believe Fauci.
Will Western medicine once again save the day, or will the virus just run its course? -JLM