Amid accusations of a lagging response to CINS, health officials from Southeast Asia, South America, the United States and the United Kingdom met in the WHO Regional Office in Japan to implement a collective response plan to the novel coronavirus infection.
CINS is the most severe and readily transmissible novel pathogen to emerge in the 21st century and has travelled more widely, swiftly and lethally than any other recent new disease, sparking fears of a dire global pandemic. The infection demonstrates efficient human-to-human transmission and so far appears to have a maximum ten-day incubation period, during which those infected may appear only mildly affected. Epidemiologists refer to this as a “perfect storm” pathogen: virulent and contagious, easily transmissible and eventually lethal but with a long incubation period in which victims are asymptomatic but able to infect many people.
Infected patients may experience flu-like symptoms, dilated pupils that appear black, and blood that turns septic. Not all infected people exhibit symptoms, and many become paranoid and violent.
“We have two epidemics,” warned a conference attendee who requested anonymity. “The first is CINS. The second is the mindless panic sweeping our populations. Just because your neighbor is rude or you see someone with eyes that appear black, doesn’t mean that they’re carrying CINS. If you think someone may be infected, do not confront them. Practice social avoidance and remain at home.”
The World Health Organization has established a control and command center to implement enforcement of infection control procedures and deploy experts to areas of clustered outbreaks.
The issue of school closures and restriction of public centers drew the most attention from press attending the conference. Across the United States and Northern Europe, so many concerned parents have opted to keep their children at home that many schools have opted to voluntarily close, with teachers sending parents instructions for home lessons.
Other public centers, such as malls, recreation centers, government offices and libraries have been slower to respond. Public transportation has seen a decline, as those who must travel are choosing single-occupant automobiles whenever possible.
Air travel remains a hot-button issue after an incident last week at Dallas/Ft. Worth International airport when TSA screeners detained an oddly-behaving woman after she refused to remove her sunglasses. An altercation ensued during which several travelers were trampled to death and the entire airport was evacuated, causing far-reaching travel delays.
“It’s a sad fact that economic concerns are what it took for governments to take this threat seriously,” commented British epidemiologist Christopher Hill Everist, a frequent critic of the World Health Organization and agitator for stringent social controls to combat epidemics.
Everist and others referred to the decrease in consumer confidence in impacted countries leading to a reduction in private consumption spending. Much of the economic impact stems from the great uncertainty and fear generated by the disease as people exhibit social distancing to reduce the probability of infection. Service exports, in particular tourism have been drastically impacted.
WHO officials admonished the spread of rumors and misinformation on the internet and across social media platforms, but with cases mounting into the thousands, social controls are showing weakness.
In contrast, Everist understood the rising panic. “This is the pandemic we have been waiting for. The smart thing is to implement a tourniquet approach and shut everything down to let the pathogen eradicate itself. Everyone argues against fear,” he added, “but there’s such a thing as a healthy sense of fear.”