I’m reading all sorts of breathless and, in my view, unreasonably confident claims about what has been officially dubbed COVID-19 but which, until that catches on, I will continue to call the Wuhan coronavirus. There have now been 60,000 cases diagnosed. There have been 1,100 deaths. How do we know? The Chinese authorities continue to demur from allowing foreigners to review their numbers. I don’t think we know whether there have been 60,000 cases in China, 600,000, or 6 million. We don’t know whether the mortality rate is 2%, .2%, or 20%.
Judging from the pictures of deserted streets in multiple cities I have seen the Chinese people are reacting with substantially more concern than would seem to be warranted by 60,000 cases, an insignificant number in a country of over a billion individuals.
There is an old rabbinic saying—when a woman country comes from a far country and tells you she’s divorced, believe her. Translation: when you can’t verify the actual facts, additional credence should be placed on claims, especially when they do not portray the individual in a completely favorable light. Conversely, when you can’t verify the facts, you’re told that your concern is insignificant, but the ones making the claim are acting as though it were the apocalypse, taking the claim with a generous dose of salt would seem to be prudent.
With the news of an asymptomatic Brit who spent a couple of days in Singapore spreading the virus to 11 others, hopes that we can avoid a pandemic would appear to be fading. Much, much more stringent measures than those already put in place would be required and, frankly, I just don’t believe we will put those measures in force.
So it looks as though Wuhan coronavirus may well be in your future, mine, and that of many, many others.