A SovereignPH.com EXCLUSIVE
A survey of Covid-19 implications from an international perspective written by Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan.
Fighting an unseen enemy
London’s The Guardian recently reflected as “terrifying when the most obvious political and social reality is considered: that a democracy cannot fight a health threat with the same draconian measures that an autocracy can impose.”
To stem the spread of corona virus, it said, China put 58 million of its people under a lockdown, with ordinary citizens basically under house arrest. The state used electronic surveillance measures to police communities in quarantine. This is before you consider what it took the Chinese to complete the construction of emergency hospitals in a week.
The only template available is the China model.
The authoritarian regime proved to be an advantage. Struck with an outbreak, the Chinese government was able to overrun and stop the fast transmission of the virus before it can develop a mind of its own.
In any democracy such powers in the hands of the state, luckily, remain unthinkable as Italy and the US now attempt, as a democracy and with no precedent in the western world, to do three extraordinarily difficult things – apply containment measures to the spread of the virus, reinforce its health system and manage the socio-economic fallout, said the London newspaper.
After having first put only the centers of the outbreak into mandatory quarantine and after having successively widened the measures to most of the country’s north, the Italian government has now extended internal travel restrictions to the entire country, in effect restricting the movements of its 60 million people.
It was only when deaths reached 800 a day that Italy ordered full lockdown of work places. The result is most fatal, as of this writing, as its death toll has now more than surpassed China and still rising: Italy has reported 69,176 active cases with 6,920 deaths and 8,326 recoveries. China has more cases at 81,171 but with less deaths at 3,277 and more recoveries at 73,159.
This means things could get worse for Italy before it could get better. Its neighboring democracies, Spain, France, and the UK are not doing any better, because they cannot move as fast as China did.
BBC reports that as the rest of the free world battles the pandemic, Wuhan where the virus was first reported, is easing on its lockdown by April 8 as only one new case of the virus was reported in Wuhan following almost a week of no reported new cases. Travel restrictions in the rest of Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, will be lifted for residents who are healthy effective April 1.
On March 24, the situation in the US looked bad at 53,260 cases with low recoveries at 370 but better when it comes to relatively fewer deaths at 689. Most of the cases are in New York at 25,665 with 210 deaths. It appears that the healthcare system in most states is coping so far except in the state of Washington where out of almost 5% of 2,221 cases, have died (110), and of course New York.
But the new kind of virus the US is presently spreading, may be far more lethal than the health risks it faces. This one could hurt the diplomatic relations between the US and China, and the economies of the first and second strongest economies in the world.
By March 6, 2020 it had been days that Secretary of State Richard Pompeo used “Wuhan virus” instead of Covid-19, the official name given by the World Health Organization, to avoid pejorative and identity politics in naming viruses.
Criticizing what he claimed as China’s “reluctance” to provide corona virus information during the initial stages of the outbreak, has put the U.S. “behind the curve.”
Two weeks earlier, he spoke to the Associated Press, claiming China was using censorship to downplay the spread of Covid-19, following the country’s expulsion of three Wall Street Journal reporters after they reported on the virus.
“It’s not the way America works with the transparency and openness and the sharing of information that needs to take place. Had China permitted its own and foreign journalists and medical personnel to speak and investigate freely, Chinese officials and other nations would have been far better prepared to address the challenge,” Pompeo added during a state department news conference on February 25.
Pompeo also noted that he believes in the United States’ ability to combat and respond to the spread of Covid-19: “I’m confident that we’ll handle it better than any nation in the world.”
But the Secretary did not anticipate unfolding revelations. Earlier in February, Japan’s Asahi in its print and TV report, and that some of the 14,000 American deaths attributed to influenza may have in fact have resulted from the corona virus.
The Japanese TV story went immediately viral on Chinese social media stoking speculations in China that the novel corona virus may have originated in the US.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refuted a story by Asahi TV, claiming there was no evidence to support the story which said many of the flu death cases in the US may have been caused by the Covid-19.
At that time, the CDC had not yet begun doing community surveillance for the corona virus, and that it would not be until February 14 that they will begin to test individuals with influenza-like-symptoms for the novel corona virus at public health labs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and New York City.
Flu season usually comes in fall and winter. While influenza viruses circulate year-round, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, but activity can last as late as May.
In 2019, flu cases were being reported to have extended two months to July even when fall officially began on September 23.
Anyways, our first estimates of the casualties of was only 14,000 but look what preliminary burden estimates from October 1, 2019 to March 21, 2020 have been released by CDC:
38,000,000 – 54,000,000 flu illnesses
400,000 – 730,000 flu hospitalizations
24,000 – 62,000 flu deaths*
A matter of Congressional record
On the same day the World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the novel corona virus outbreak to be a pandemic, a most-important hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Coronavirus Response was occurring in three hours.
Here is the transcript of the CNN video taken on March 11, 2020:
REP HARLEY ROUDA: And if somebody died from influenza, are we doing post-mortem testing to see whether it was influenza or whether it was Covid 19?
ROBERT REDFIELD: There is a surveillance system of death from pneumonia that the CDC has. It is not on every city, every state, every hospital.
ROUDA: So we could have people in the United States, dying for what appears to be influenza, when in fact it could be the corona virus or Covid 19?
REDFIELD: Some cases have actually been diagnosed that way in the United States today.
Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, admitted on live video that some of the 14.000 to 20,000 Americans who died of influenza in 2019 in the US, were attributed to flu but were posthumously discovered and diagnosed as Covid 19.
Corroboration by Canadian Think Tank
A week earlier on March 4, Canada’s Center for Research on Globalization (Global Research) published an article by Larry Romanoff, showing a Taiwanese virologist on a TV news program, present diagrams and flow charts corroborating Redfield’s statement.
The virologist said that the US has had more than 200 “pulmonary fibrosis” cases that resulted in death due to patients’ inability to breathe.
He said he informed the US health authorities to consider seriously those deaths as resulting from the corona virus whose outbreak may have begun earlier than assumed.
Hawaii and Colorado infections precede Wuhan?
The Taiwanese doctor also interjected, “We must look to September of 2019” when some Japanese traveled to Hawaii and returned home infected.”
They had never been to China and that was two months prior to the infections in China and just after the CDC suddenly and totally shut down the Fort Detrick bio-weapons lab claiming the facilities were insufficient to prevent loss of pathogens.
He testified that he personally and carefully investigated the cases of some Japanese involved (as did the Japanese virologists who arrived at the same conclusion).
This might indicate the corona virus had already spread in the US but where the symptoms were possibly masked and were being officially attributed to other causes.
The Global Research article also cited a report of ABC News affiliate KJCT8 News Network that on February 26, a certain Almeta Stone, a resident of Montrose, Colorado, told the media that her sister recently died of flu. “They (the medical staff) kept us informed that it was the flu, but when I got the death certificate, there was a corona virus in the cause of death.”
Visibly irked by Secretary Pompeo’s uncouth labeling, the official spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, republished in his Twitter account a video of CDC director Robert Redfield, addressing the US congressional committee, as we have already discussed.
“When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be [the] US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!” Zhao said.
In response to Zhao’s tweet, the US State Department summoned China’s Ambassador in Washington Cui Tiankai and gave him “stern representation.”
“China is seeking to deflect criticism for its role in starting a global pandemic and not telling the world… We wanted to put the [Chinese] government on notice we won’t tolerate it,” a State Department official said.
But when confronted by the facts, the US skirts the issues and accuses China of spinning a conspiracy theory.
Meanwhile Cui waxes diplomatic and distances from the controversy.
Ado Paglinawan is a daily commentator at Radyo Pilipinas1, and a regular columnist at the newest daily news website SovereignPH.com and its partner magazine The Sovereign. He is former Philippine diplomat, serving in the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC and in the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York as press attaché, spokesman and special assistant to Ambassador Emmanuel N. Pelaez. He has served as strategic consultant to Agriculture Secretary Luisito Lorenzo, Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon and Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo. He studied for 1 5 years at San Beda College from grade 1 to 4th year college majoring in English and Philosophy, minor in political science and history. He is a veteran of the First Quarter Storm participating as president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. Ado has taken continuing studies in world politics and diplomacy, international public relations, information technology and remote sensing, Christian and Islamic studies in various universities in Washington DC.