January 1st, 2020
China: We are treating dozens of cases of pneumonia of an unknown cause. We are reporting it to WHO. There is no evidence that the virus is spread by humans.
Rest of the world: Yawn!
China: We regret the first known death from an illness caused by the virus. It was a 61-year old man who was a regular customer of the market in Wuhan where the virus is believed to have originated. The deceased had previously been found to have abdominal tumours and chronic liver disease.
Rest of the world: Er- where’s Wuhan? What’s the big deal anyway?
(January 20th – 22nd. A few cases occur in Japan, Korea Thailand and the USA. UK upgrades its risk from ‘very low’ to ‘low’)
China: From now on no one moves into or out of Wuhan. If you go anywhere, you must wear a mask. We think the virus came from the Wuhan wet market. Nationwide lockdown and quarantine policies implemented; severe penalties for disobedience.
Rest of the world: Wretched Chinese – they eat anything that moves, preferably while it is still moving. They are trying to control everyone’s life by scaring us! They can do that under Xi; it will never happen in the West. We won’t put up with it. Besides flu kills more people each year than this does. Life goes on.
WHO: We declare a global health emergency. There are thousands of cases in China.
Rest of the world: It’s all China’s fault. We won’t let anyone from China into our countries. Thank heavens, we can cope with these sorts of things. No need to panic. But spare parts for our cars are running out. We must never rely on China again.
China: This virus is called COVID-19. We now have had 44,653 cases and 1,113 people have died. We are banning the sale of live wild animals in markets. We must start building hospitals, so the medical system doesn’t get overwhelmed.
Rest of the world: About time too! It is disgusting! There are a few cases in Western countries but only those who are already sick are dying. A few cruise ships seem to have it. But it’s not as bad as ordinary flu.
Italy: We have a surge in cases in Lombardy. We are locking down ten towns there – 50,000 people.
Rest of the world: Poor Italy – but their health care is not so good and there are so many old people there. Look at the other European countries. They don’t have it like Italy does.
China: You must start building hospitals, so the medical system doesn’t get overwhelmed. We built a new one in seven days. Lockdown continues. All factories stay shut. Nobody moves. You must wear masks whenever you go out.
Rest of the world: Yes, perhaps we should do a bit more. We seem to have a lot more cases everywhere now. And our economies are suffering.
4th. – 17th March
Rest of the world: UK announces lockdown and stimulus packages. UK deaths rise to 55 with possibly 10,000 infected. USA declares state of emergency. France imposes nationwide lockdown.
China: Zero domestic cases. Why are you not all wearing masks? Learn from us; we have it under control now. But we are banning flights from certain Western countries. Total lockdown is the answer.
Rest of the world: UK cases ‘surge’ to 87. Italy shuts schools and churches. We don’t believe your figures. You are lying, China. You have always lied. Our newspapers tell the truth (mostly).
China: Guys, why are things getting out of control out there? Where are your hospitals and why are you not in total lockdown? Why were you pointing fingers at us for two months, and doing nothing? Testing, hospitals, masks – we told you all of this.
Rest of the world: USA has highest number of infections. White House predicts up to 250,000 deaths. You communists never told us how dangerous this virus is. You’ve been given us false data the whole time!
Rest of the World: Global cases exceed one million. Over 50,00 deaths at least. Maybe we should have done more. Our hospitals cannot cope. We do not have enough protection equipment, tests or medical supplies. Our economies are dying. We wonder if wearing masks would help?
China: We are getting back to normal if you leave us alone and do not visit China. We told you all this weeks ago, but you did not listen. You never believe what we say. We had to learn the hard way; we do not get everything right. But why, oh why, do you pretend still that the West is always best – always right?
We all have a lot to learn still…. Let’s just accept that.