By Gab Mejia (www.manilatimes.net)
A NEW decade has just begun, and thousands of citizens all over the world have already been affected by the newly discovered 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV), growing at an unprecedented rate that has severely impacted families and the daily lives of humanity across several continents and regions. A disease that has been proven to be lethal, having already killed more than 130 people in China, the epicenter of this threatening pandemic. Hysteria and fear that have resulted in precautionary measures being imposed in places like Hong Kong and Taiwan, where visas for the Chinese have been suspended and flights to and from Hubei province have been forcibly canceled.
We are living today in such interesting and difficult times, gutted by global atrocities and adversities, from threats of war to volcanic eruptions and locust swarms. But after the many diseases that have afflicted the human race, with the Ebola virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome within the last few decades, it is not just the mere existence of a highly contagious virus that is deadly, but the negligence of the intertwining chain of consequences rooted in environmental factors and heightened by cultural and geopolitical factors.
Science and research have shown that the underlying cause of nCoV is directly linked to wildlife, a zoonotic infectious disease that was directly transmitted through eating wild animals. A globally threatening disease that only started in such a minuscule scale in a local wet market in China. Though the Chinese are already known for such cultural and traditional practice of eating exotic animals like sharks, snakes and bats, what makes it sinister is not that it transcends the boundaries of culture, but that it has an underlying issue of illegal wildlife trade.
Humanity has already been fighting to save our dwindling biodiversity in order to achieve sustainable practices, as well as to protect the continued coexistence of man and nature. More so in understanding the environmental roots of this highly contagious disease — that this global atrocity should not be pinned down to a mere race or nationality, as other countries also practice the consumption of exotic animals in their own cultures. We must respect such cultural practices the same way we do with other people’s religions and beliefs.
It is only the oppressive system of dictatorship and ignorance of the rights of the people, unlawful practices and heightened geopolitical tensions that we should stand against, be united against. United like the scientists, engineers and researchers doing their part in sharing information despite cultural differences, with the goal of unraveling the structure of the 2019 nCoV in order to develop vaccines and cures to stop the spread of this deadly disease.
We, as a human race, may have started this disease ourselves, but we too as a human race could stop this ourselves.