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Microbe-turned-Goliath

Speculations are rife on the true origin of the deadly coronavirus or COVID-19 that has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 human beings worldwide since the first outbreak in China two months ago. (For the latest, use the coronavirus infection tracker on the internet.)

The speculations posted online range from the bizarre to the terrifying. The hilarious provides comic relief for the hypochondriacs and paranoids of this world.

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The official word from world health officials is that the virus could have come from a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, the outbreak’s epicenter. Is that all there is to know? To put it a certain way, are they busy keeping us in the dark?

Is the rogue virus an escapee from a mad scientist’s lab? How did it find its way out of a secret lab that creates deadly microbes for biological warfare? An experiment gone awry? Whose pet mutant was it? Never have the words “gone viral” become so literally true.

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When I dropped by a bargain bookstore for great finds, I asked the guy at the counter if bookworms have been looking for Dean Koontz’s novel “The Eyes of Darkness.” Many, he replied. In his 1981 novel, Koontz describes Wuhan-400 as “China’s most important and dangerous new biological weapon in a decade.” Prophetic, readers gasp.

I have the e-book version sent to me by a fellow journo.

COVID-19 has become a Goliath threatening economies, communities, nations, and many facets of our existence. Think civilization (and ancient) that is China, now an ailing dragon in intensive care.

I did some kind of speed-reading exercise and scanned the papers for the coronavirus. COVID-19 was popping out of the pages.

Call these apocalyptic, but these are happening now:

“Empty streets, economic turmoil as virus alters daily life worldwide…Saudi Arabia closed Islam’s holiest sites to foreign pilgrims. In Japan, professional baseball teams played to deserted stadiums. The French government advised the public to forgo customary greeting kisses.”

“The Louvre museum in Paris shut its doors to art lovers and tourists for a second day on Monday as management held talks with workers over the risks associated with coronavirus.”

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“Virus deaths exceed 3,000; 63 countries report cases…the virus has now infected more than 88,000 people and spread to more than 60 countries…”

“A surge of infections outside of mainland China triggered a steep fall in Asian share markets and Wall Street stock futures as investors fled to safe havens such as gold. Oil prices tumbled and the Korean won fell to its lowest since August.”

“Switzerland has already introduced a ban on events expected to draw 1,000 people…”

Good news, bad news: “Washington—Nasa satellite images show a dramatic fall in pollution over China that is ‘partly related’ to the economic slowdown due to the coronavirus outbreak…”

“Philippine Airlines recorded the biggest loss in its corporate history due to what its chief described as ‘unsustainable long-term debt and lease obligations (in) billions of US dollars’ aggravated by the Taal volcano eruption and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.”

“At least 7,000 workers are about to be laid off within the next six months due to COVID-19, according to the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines.”

“Malaysian firm offers system to track virus.”

“Tourist arrivals in Thailand are down to 50 percent compared with a year ago. In Italy which has the most reported cases of any country outside of Asia, hotel bookings are falling.”

“South Korea closes churches as COVID-19 tally passes 3,500…That came a day after the biggest daily jump of 813 cases in South Korea’s battle with the largest virus outbreak outside China…”

“Economists have forecast global growth will slip to 2.4 percent this year, the slowest since the Great Recession in 2009… (If) COVID-19 becomes a global pandemic, economists expect the impact could be much worse, with the US and other global economies falling into recession.”

In the Philippines, no COVID-19 deaths so far. The lone fatality was a Chinese tourist. Patients under observation are either foreigners or Filipinos who arrived from outside the country. Oratio imperata pa more!

A positive note: Our endangered pangolins, among the wildlife suspected to be COVID-19 carriers, might no longer be a coveted delicacy in China.

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For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .

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